The dam of resistance in the House of Delegates has fallen. Last week Delegate Terry Kilgore announced his support for Medicaid expansion. That meant the House no longer had the necessary 51 votes to prevent it. Today House Speaker Kirk Cox and Governor Northam have agreed to expand Medicaid in Virginia. From the Richmond Times-Dispatch,
My long-standing concerns about the cost of expansion aren’t going away, but unfortunately the ACA is here to stay and the Trump administration is the best chance to secure conservative reforms,” Cox said in a statement to the Richmond Times-Dispatch on Saturday, the eve of the annual release of the House and Senate budget proposals.
“Instead of fighting a losing battle against straightforward Medicaid expansion, I believe the House should lead by putting forward a responsible plan similar to what Vice President Mike Pence adopted as governor of Indiana,” said the speaker, referring to federal approval this month of a work requirement for the Indiana Medicaid program that Pence expanded with reforms in 2015.
The Senate Finance committee will report a budget later today that does not include Medicaid expansion. The coming weeks could be a battle between the two Houses over this issue.
In Speaker’s proposal, the federal government would kick in 90% of the cost of Medicaid expansion, with the other 10% coming from new “provider assessments” on hospitals. The federal government will give Virginia $3.2 billion to fund the program. Should the federal government ever stop providing the money to Virginia, the plan ends. (There’s no way that would ever happen. Has ANY entitlement program EVER been cut or even diminished?)
There would be a work requirement for “able bodied adults”. Along with that would be a “Training, Education, Employment and Opportunity Program” at the cost to the state of $22.4 million.
Under the proposal state workers would see a raise, along with more money to education pre-school through 12th grade and “a blockbuster higher education initiative in Northern Virginia”. (Since the vast majority of students in Northern Virginia already attend college, why is the money going there?)
See more details on Medicaid expansion here.