My fellow colleague here at The Bull Elephant, Steve Albertson, has written extensively on the Medicaid Expansion debate in Richmond. Democrats have held the budget hostage with their demands that Medicaid Expansion be included in the budget. Republicans have insisted the the debate and decision on Medicaid Expansion be de-coupled from the budget and decided separately. Republicans had a major breakthrough last week when Democrat Senator Phil Puckett announced he would be retiring immediately, ending the stalemate on the budget.
Today is the day of reckoning. A budget will be passed now that Republicans control both chambers of the assembly, but a significant issue MUST be addressed before the budget is passed – amending the budget to explicitly state that the governor has no authority to unilaterally expand Medicaid!
This debate has been raging on since Bob McDonnell has been in office. A majority of Republicans argue that the governor has no authority to unilaterally expand Medicaid with how the budget is currently written. However, Governor McAuliffe’s lawyers may be telling him that the budget language is vague and open-ended, allowing him to act unilaterally on Medicaid. House GOP leaders may have to litigate to block McAuliffe if he attempts to act unilaterally, but that of course would cost a lot of money. There is a very simple (and cheap) way to lay down the law on this issue…. just lay down the law and make it abundantly clear!
Senator Dick Black is offering an amendment to the budget momentarily that states:
Page 504, after line 38, insert ”
4. That notwithstanding Item 301 of this act, any other provision of this act, or any other law, no coverage for newly eligible individuals pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1396d(y)(1) of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act shall be permitted unless the General Assembly enacts a law on or after July 1, 2014, that provides the specific date when such coverage shall begin. The provisions of this enactment shall have no expiration date.
Senator Stosch, Senator Watkins and Senator Hanger (all Republicans) are the only individuals standing in the way of this amendment being passed. I would just remind these individuals that votes have consequences. Don’t believe me? Just ask Eric Cantor, Beverly Sherwood, and Joe May. The message should be loud and clear to all Republicans today, “Black or BUST!”
If you don’t think the voters will care how you vote today on this issue, you might want to ask Rep. John Burris from Arkansas. Burris was the architect of the “private option” for Medicaid Expansion and he just suffered defeat in his Republican Primary. We have proven our ability to do that here in Virginia as well…
Walter Stosch – (804) 698-7512
John Watkins – (804) 698-7510
Emmett Hanger – (804) 698-7524
Votes are imminent. Your immediate action is required. You know what to do…