The Senate Finance Committee has rejected the traditional Medicaid expansion in Governor McAuliffe’s proposed budget in favor of its own alternative, “Marketplace Virginia.” The Senate plan would use federal funds to provide private health insurance for residents who make under 139 percent of the poverty level, but GOP House leaders are not sold on the idea.
The Senate plan would use federal funds from the 20 taxes that Virginians pay under the Affordable Care Act to buy managed-care insurance for lower-income residents. Senate budget conferee Janet Howell says this Marketplace would still cover up to 400-thousand of the uninsured.
“And it has the support of almost all of the business community, the religious communities, the public. So we thought this was at this point the stronger option for us.”
The greatest savings would come from state-funded indigent care. Senators used that and other savings to retain the Governor’s proposed two-percent pay raise for state workers, college faculty, and teachers.
“Our state employees haven’t had a raise in five or six years. They’ve had a few bonuses, but a real raise is significant.”
House Majority Leader Kirk Cox says it’s the fourth Senate healthcare proposal, so it’s critically important to pass the state budget now without the changeable plan. He says there’s no guarantee that federal officials will grant the waivers needed for the Senate plan.