Virginia Is Poised to Expand Medicaid

The Virginia Senate passed a budget Wednesday

The Virginia General Assembly on Wednesday approved expansion of Medicaid, the state-federal program for the low income. The House of Delegates, which already passed a version of Medicaid expansion, will need to vote again to make expansion a reality, but the odds now seem overwhelming that Virginia will become the 33rd state to expand Medicaid (Washington, DC, has also expanded).

Some GOP senators objected to expansion because they anxious the Trump administration could renege on ObamaCare's funding agreement, leaving Virginia to cover the entirety of the expansion costs.

Sen. Steve Newman, R-Bedford, had attempted to amend the bill to require approval of a federal waiver by President Donald Trump's administration before Virginia could expand Medicaid.

"It is a ticking time bomb", said GOP Sen.

One of Northam's major campaign goals was to expand Medicaid for Virginia - a goal his predecessor, Terry McAuliffe, had but could not achieve with Republican majorities in the General Assembly.

"The loudest voices in this long-standing conversation on Medicaid expansion have been those of Virginians".

Northam said he hopes Medicaid expansion will go into effect in Virginia by January 1, 2019.

In Virginia, which has some of the strictest eligibility requirements in the country, a family of three that makes more than $6,900 a year is no longer eligible for Medicaid coverage under current law. Childless adults are not eligible, and working parents can not earn more than 30 percent of the federal poverty level, or $5,727 a year.

"That's debt, and I've 4 youngsters who're going to be having to pay for that for the remainder of their lives", Senator Amanda Chase, a Republican from Chesterfield, stated of the federal funds spent on Medicaid growth, explaining her vote in opposition to it on Wednesday.

Last year, Virginia saw its state legislature reshaped by an anti-Trump wave as Democrats made unexpectedly large gains in the state House. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., who left office in 2007 and ran unsuccessfully for the presidency in 2012 and 2016. In a Senate meeting room, he warned that Obamacare could be killed by Congress.

"We are picking up some momentum".

"There's always talk of repealing Obamacare; that did not happen", Cox said. Expansion supporters waited in the hallway outside; their signs reminded individual senators of the percentage of voters in their districts who favor expansion.

Capitol Police stayed on hand to keep the peace, at one point separating the two factions when they got into a shouting match, a rarity in the marble corridors where a Capitol staffer regularly scolds anyone who speaks above a whisper.

The Senate Majority Leader said the deal will not discourage him from continuing to fight for a fiscally responsible budget.

Virginia lawmakers are set to end a budget stalemate and pass Medicaid expansion.

In a floor speech, he also lamented the tone of the debate.

"In the years I have been in the Senate, I have never been treated more disrespectfully by some of these advocacy groups", he said.

"The verbal abuse I took yesterday. was unbelievable". Emmett Hanger of Augusta County, Jill Vogel of Fauquier County, Frank Wagner of Virginia Beach, and Ben Chafin of Russell County...sided with the 19-member Democratic minority.



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