Virginia set to expand Medicaid, as Senate OKs proposal

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam on March 21 in Richmond with Aubrey Lane the state’s secretary of finance

Virginia will be the second state to expand Medicaid following the election of President Donald Trump.

Virginia's Home of Delegates voted to approve Medicaid growth through the common 60-day legislative session that resulted in March. Earlier this year, Utah also met the threshold. Many of you have already figured out that it is the politics of the issue.

Pro-expansion lawmakers have a majority in both chambers, and Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam is a strong proponent of expansion. Expanding Medicaid was a key provision of the Affordable Care Act pushed by former President Barack Obama.

I know I have been predicting for months that a biennial budget would be passed for the Commonwealth and that it would include an expansion of health care coverage for those who are not now eligible for Medicaid.

"Let's put the excuses aside".

The extended debate kept the House of Delegates waiting in their chambers to act on the Senate budget in order to move the measure to Gov. Ralph Northam's desk.

The vote ends a years-long partisan battle over whether to widen coverage under the health care program.

The moment was an irresistible opportunity for Corey Stewart, the Prince William County supervisor running for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, to descend on the Capitol and denounce the "weak" Republicans who voted with Democrats to expand Medicaid.

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"I came to the conclusion that "no" just wasn't the answer anymore, that doing nothing about the medical conditions, the state of health care in my district, just wasn't the answer any longer", he said.

"It is a ticking time bomb", said GOP Sen. However, he said the rule does not extend to action in committee.

The House of Delegates voted Wednesday shortly after the state Senate voted in favor of expansion. "It will invest in schools, workforce training, public safety, and an economy that works better for every Virginian, no matter who they are or where they live", Northam said.

McPike noted that the budget bill, with its infusion of federal Medicaid dollars, will allow the state to use money it had been spending on indigent care toward priorities such as education, mental health care and Medicaid "waivers" for those who are developmentally disabled.

After talking to Republican senators, Santorum is scheduled to appear at a news conference at 10:45 a.m. conducted by Americans for Prosperity, a national conservative policy advocacy organization backed by billionaires Charles and David Koch.

The majority-GOP Senate passed the measure with the votes of all 19 Democrats along with a handful of Republican senators, bringing a six-year debate over whether Virginia should accept funding from the Affordable Care Act to expand Medicaid almost to a close. Supreme Court, the state of Virginia is ready to begin a process to expand its Medicaid program to cover an additional 400,000 people.

Once Northam signs the bill, Virginia will join the 32 other states plus D.C. that have expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), according to the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), which tracks state actions on the program. One would amend the state Medicaid plan to expand eligibility to people earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty limit, or less than $17,000 a year.

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