Hundreds of Virginians crowded into a Senate committee room Tuesday night for a public hearing on Governor McAuliffe’s recently proposed budget. Some speakers praised the bill’s two-percent pay raise for state employees, college faculty, and teachers, while others endorsed his plan to fund Line-of-Duty payments for fallen police officers. However, the majority came to support either the Governor’s traditional Medicaid expansion OR the Senate’s private-insurance alternative, Marketplace Virginia.
Business leaders said they pay federal health care taxes, so Virginians should benefit. Hospital directors said they need the funds so their facilities don’t close. Laurie Piper lost her job and health insurance due to serious illness, and then became homeless. She said it’s not a political—but human—issue.
“This is about real lives of real people who live in our community and are struggling to deal with hardship that often begins a spiral into poverty—that begins with lack of good health care coverage for preventive care, for maintenance of chronic illnesses.”
Nicole Riley is the National Federation of Independent Business state director. She said her members oppose expansion, yet also want to find the BEST way to increase health care access. But she said the federal healthcare law is proof that complex issues should NOT be rushed—because the law has backfired, cancelled plans, and driven up costs.
“According to the IRS, since the passage of Obamacare, the average Virginia employee’s premiums have increased 11.4 percent, and the average Virginia family’s premiums have increased 16.8 percent.”
The Governor’s plan would increase the budget to $99 billion.
Expansion opponents renewed their call to pass the state budget now—then deal with Medicaid in a Special Session later this year.