General Assembly Update

Feb 12, 2014

Virginia House Speaker Bill Howell and other GOP members of that chamber are characterizing the first half of the General Assembly session as a success.

Howell says many of their key initiatives have passed, and they worked well with Democrats. But when asked if the House will work with the Senate on passing Medicaid expansion, GOP leaders still say they just don't see that happening.

Medicaid is already the most expensive single program in the General Fund budget.  Howell referenced the Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission created last year to examine Medicaid, cut costs, and propose efficiencies, and he says it still has a lot of work to do. House Appropriations Chair Chris Jones says from what they've seen so far, adding so many more Virginians to the program would be unsustainable.
It’s been suggested that some Republicans in both houses are siding with Governor McAuliffe, who campaigned on Medicaid expansion. Howell says while it’s true that not everyone in his caucus has the same views, he thinks that most in the House would prefer to wait for reforms before signing off on such a significant expansion of the program.