Democrats Prioritize Health Care in Coming Legislative Session - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Democrats Plan to Prioritize Health Care in Coming Legislative Session

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Democrats are gearing up for the 2013 legislative session in Richmond this coming January.

At the capitol Thursday, party leaders laid out their plans for one of their top priorities: health care. Three days after the governor announced his budget priorities for fiscal year 2014, democrats are striking back.

They say McDonnell's administration hasn't done enough for Virginians when it comes to health care reform. The governor announced last week Virginia would not pursue a state-based health care exchange under President Obama's Affordable Care Act.

McDonnell also opposes the optional expansion of Medicaid to people 138 percent above the poverty line.

Frustrated democrats question those decisions. "Walking away from funding to cover these costs makes absolutely no sense," said Del. Patrick Hope (D) 47th District.

"We are disappointed and a little puzzled that Governor McDonnell continues to avoid establishing a state health care exchange," said Del. Jennifer McClellan (D) 71st District.

Democrats say they plan to introduce legislation in 2013 that would facilitate the expansion of Medicaid in the state.  Democrats are also pushing for Virginia to opt for a health care exchange partnership, rather than deferring entirely to the federal government.

The deadline for that decision is February 15.

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