Government & Politics
9:18 am
Fri March 29, 2013

Medicaid Expansion Debate

Just after presumptive Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe made a statement about his desire to implement Medicaid expansion, Governor McDonnell and McAuliffe's GOP opponent have responded. 

McAuliffe would like to see Medicaid expanded as soon as possible. "I have consistently said that we need to have the Medicaid expansion here in Virginia. First and foremost it would cover 400,000 - 500,000 Virginians--would get access to quality healthcare next year. It's important socially, morally, it's the right thing to do," he said.

Gov. McDonnell says he's not caving in to the pressure to implement the expansion without reforms… and has submitted budget amendments to require those changes.  He says says Medicaid already consumes 21% of the state budget and his amendments require specific reforms before the new Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission can approve expansion.

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli says under the best of circumstances costs will skyrocket, and no one has explained where that money is coming from if the federal government fails to fund it.
 
"You know, are you going to cut that out of education or are you going to cut that out of transportation, or are you going to raise taxes? I mean, you got a couple more options--you've got public safety but I don't support those courses and so until we see a dramatically expanded ability on the part of the Commonwealth to control its Medicaid costs, I could not support that expansion," he said.

McDonnell says he's not caving in to the pressure to implement the expansion without reforms… and has submitted budget amendments to require those changes.
 
It will be up to the General Assembly next week to either approve or reject the amendments.

The federal government has pledged to cover the full cost of Medicaid expansion for the first three years and will then scale back to paying no less than 90% of the cost for new recipients.  Over that time, many experts believe changes in the way health care is provided will mean significant cost savings.