If you go to the Virginia Legislative Services website and scroll through the list of bills up for consideration this session, you would eventually come across SB 162. In that list the bill’s title states, “Constitutional Amendment; special funds for transportation purposes.” Unfortunately, when you click on the bill number and start reading a summary of it’s actual purpose, you find something completely different:
Marketplace Virginia; health plans. Creates Marketplace Virginia, which will be established and operated by a new division within the State Corporation Commission (SCC). Marketplace Virginia shall facilitate the purchase and sale of qualified health plans and qualified dental plans to qualified individuals and qualified employers, making qualified plans available to qualified individuals and qualified employers.
That sounds a lot like Medicaid expansion to me.
Now, if you are a watchdog group that is fighting for or against certain issues in Richmond, you most likely don’t have time to read through the summary of every single bill that is introduced for each session. You are most likely going to scroll through the list of bills and their titles to flag the ones that might have something to do with an issue you are concerned about, which makes this next question a very serious one:
Was this Medicaid expansion bill given a completely inappropriate title by mistake, or on purpose?
This would not be the first time subterfuge was attempted to slip Medicaid expansion into Virginia. The first attempt was an underhanded move to sneak it into the budget that was beaten back by Sen. Dick Black (R-13) with a hat-tip to TBE’s own Steve Albertson for the legwork and research he did on the issue. Rumors around Richmond this year say that newly elected Governor, Ralph Northam, has made Medicaid expansion a priority, and there may be numerous quiet attempts to push it through, or at least get the Camel’s nose under the tent.
The bill is coming before the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee this Monday, Jan. 15th, but since the bill title labels it as a transportation funding bill, and not a Medicaid Expansion bill, it’s highly likely the troops have not been notified about this one.
Do the Senators on the committee a favor and let them know about this bill’s mistaken identity…and then tell them you want this bill to die a quick death.
UPDATE: After TBE published this article, the Senate changed the title on bill SB 162. It originally looked like this:
The title has been changed to reflect the content as seen here.