Senate Republicans vote down measure to close healthcare coverage gap

healthcareIn a near-party-line vote of 22-15, the Senate today approved budget amendment 301 #11s striking language from Gov. McAuliffe’s introduced budget that would have closed the health insurance coverage gap, enabling up to 400,000 Virginians — most from working families — to access quality, affordable healthcare. Republican leader Sen. Tommy Norment (R – James City) moved to cut off debate after just one senator had spoken; that motion passed on a near-party-line vote of 23-14. In response, Senate Democrats later made the following statements:

Said Sen. Barbara Favola (D – Arlington), “I think as lawmakers we actually have an obligation to look at the facts, to put politics aside, to do what’s right for the Commonwealth. That’s why we were elected, and I don’t think we should renege on that. I’m sorry we didn’t do the right thing today on Medicaid expansion, but I don’t think this fight is over.”

Said Sen. George Barker (D – Farifax), “What we need to do is to do our own analyses of these types of claims that were made last year, understand what is happening, and when we get back here next year, be willing to act on closing the coverage gap — based not upon our fears, not upon our suspicion of whether or not things are true, but on the facts of the difference that it can make in the lives of Virginians. […] I am confident that if we do that when we get back here next year, we will act to close the coverage gap.”

Said Sen. Jennifer Wexton (D – Loudoun), “Once again, we’ve missed an opportunity to save hundreds of lives — and hundreds of millions of dollars — every year. Many hardworking Virginians earn too much for traditional Medicaid, but too little for tax credits and subsidies available through our health exchange. Through no fault of their own, these Virginians are caught in a coverage gap — and I’m deeply disappointed that we’ve have once again failed to help them.”

Said Sen. Lynwood Lewis (D – Accomack), “Our broken status quo leaves hundreds of thousands of uninsured Virginians with no good options for care. Closing the coverage gap would enable these hardworking men and women to access quality, affordable health care — at a net savings to the Commonwealth. I am deeply upset that we have once again failed to help them.”

Addressing his Republican colleagues, Caucus Chair Sen. Donald McEachin (D – Henrico) said, “You turned your backs on them today: 400,000 hardworking Virginians. Maybe they’re part-timers just like you and I are part-timers, but it was wrong to do it that way, it was wrong to cut off debate. […] Senates across the country are deliberative bodies, and to not even offer us the courtesy of open debate was wrong.”


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