Medicaid expansion talk is going nowhere

Democrat vs. Republican on whiteYou knew this already, but the special session that Republican leaders in the Virginia General Assembly called for Sept. 16-17 to discuss Medicaid expansion is going absolutely nowhere.

“The governor is going to want to keep talking about it. We’re going to keep talking about reform and making health insurance more affordable. Hopefully we’ll bridge that gap, but I’m not sure if we’ll do it this year,” said State Del. Ben Cline, R-Rockbridge, after the annual Labor Day parade in Buena Vista on Monday.

Cline represents Buena Vista in the House of Delegates. Democrat Creigh Deeds represents the town in the State Senate. Deeds did his part in a quick interview with Augusta Free Press to continue to press the Medicaid expansion issue that pushed a final resolution on the new state budget into late June.

“It’s politics. It’s about the president and doing anything they can do to hurt the president. The problem is, there are people who are being hurt, too. Real people who would be better off if we could just resolve this,” Deeds said.

Republicans won the battle when a Democratic colleague of Deeds in the State Senate, Phil Puckett, resigned in June to break a legislative logjam blocking judicial appointments that had ensnared his daughter from getting a permanent appointment to a lower-level state court.

Since that switch in time, bad news in the form of state revenue reports coming in under projections seem to have put a damper on public support for committing more state dollars to expanding the Medicaid rolls.

Cline said the GOP is going to follow through on its promise to debate the expansion proposal anyway.

“We’re going to debate the Medicaid expansion proposal. We were trying to get past the government shutdown threat from Gov. McAuliffe, but we promised the people of Virginia that we would fully debate Medicaid expansion, and that’s what we’re going to do,” Cline told the AFP.

“All proposals are going to be considered. They’re going to be put to the floor for a vote. Those of us who have studied this issue know that Medicaid is a broken system, that it needs reform before we ever consider expanding it, and those reforms are being bottled up in Washington, D.C. If we can make some progress up in Washington, we think that we’ll be able to make some changes to Medicaid, and then we can talk about making healthcare more affordable for all Virginians,” Cline said.

– Column by Chris Graham

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