Medicine

Gridlock over: Virginia lawmakers approve Medicaid expansion

Gridlock over: Virginia lawmakers approve Medicaid expansion

The benefits would include revenue from expanding Medicaid eligibility to people who now receive uncompensated care and from raising the reimbursement rate for providers. It is Kirk, not Kick.

Virginia will likely join 32 states, as well as the District of Columbia, that have expanded Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), providing health coverage to about 300,000 to 400,000 low-income residents.

Bryce Reeves (R-Spotsylvania), whose senate district includes parts of Albemarle and Orange County voted against the legislation. Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam has signaled he will sign the bill, making the state the 33rd to expand Medicaid under the ACA.

Nineteen of the 51 Republicans in the House joined Democrats in February to pass a budget bill that expanded Medicaid, apparently concluding that they have more to fear from energized Democrats and independents than from potential primary challengers on the right. "The budget the Senate passed today expands health care to Virginians, invests in core economic priorities and strengthens the cash reserves we need for a rainy day". The House voted 68-30 to back the budget for fiscal year ending June 30 and 67-31 for the new two-year budget.

"Today's vote in Virginia is a smack in the face to the Trump administration and the Republicans in Congress who keep pushing an out-of-touch, anti-health-care agenda", said Leslie Dach, chair of the advocacy group Protect Our Care, which supports the Affordable Care Act. People wearing green Americans for Prosperity shirts and holding signs calling for "No Medicaid expansion in Virginia" lined the meeting room. Republicans had previously been near unified in blocking past expansion efforts, saying the long-term costs were unsustainable.

The vote ends a years-long partisan battle over whether to widen coverage under the health care program.

They fought up to the moment of the vote Wednesday, with a series of procedural moves, passionate floor speeches and an appearance by former U.S. Sen. He said his rural area needs expansion to bolster its hospitals and provide care for constituents.

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"Just to be certain, I'm leaving", he said with a chuckle. Several state Republicans dropped their opposition this year, saying the state would be better off with increased federal funding for the program.

Senate Republicans said Sen. The current program covers 1 million, so adding 400,000 represents a 40 percent increase - a much bigger leap for Virginia than for most states.

Four Republicans voted with the Senate's 19 Democrats to bring an end to almost five years of GOP intransigence over allowing the Affordable Care Act - also known as "Obamacare" - to be fully realized in Virginia.

Yet ironically, his administration's embrace of work requirements for low-income people on Medicaid prompted lawmakers in some conservative states to resurrect plans for expansion.

The budget bill included a work requirement for able bodied adults that will receive Medicaid coverage in Virginia.

Virginia's plan would tax hospitals to generate income for the state's 10 % share of the roughly $2 billion annual value.

Democrats campaigned heavily on expanding Medicaid last year and some House Republicans were eager to take the issue off the table before next year's election, when both House and Senate seats are up. A chastened House Speaker Kirkland Cox, R-Colonial Heights, seeking to rebrand Republicans as results-oriented pragmatists, came out in favor of expansion if work requirements, co-pays and other conservative strings were attached.