McAuliffe Faces Bipartisan Test In Medicaid Expansion - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

McAuliffe Faces Bipartisan Test In Medicaid Expansion

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Terry McAuliffe Terry McAuliffe

Virginia Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe won’t mince words - he wants to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. There are two ways he can come through on that promise, but he will need help from a difficult place.

Republicans have generally opposed the idea of expansion. They worry the federal government will not be able to fund its share of the costs of expansion, 100 percent for the first three years and dropping down to 90 percent after that.

“Expansion is not the only solution to try to get to the end goal of covering those uncovered citizens,” Senate Finance Committee Chairman, Sen. Walter Stosch said.

McAuliffe will need to convince many of those Republicans otherwise, and seems intent on doing so.

“I want to get consensus,” he said last week. “We’ve got to do this in a bipartisan way.”

McAuliffe believes the expansion will not only help hundreds of thousands of uninsured Virginians get coverage, but also says it could create as many as 30,000 jobs and help fund other budget priorities.

But, again, in reality McAuliffe has two choices if he wants to pass Medicaid expansion in the General Assembly.

On one hand, he can try to pass new budget language during the 2014 session to expand Medicaid outright. Democrats tried to do that this year, and a similar attempt would likely meet its doom in the Republican controlled House of Delegates next year.

McAuliffe might have better luck working within the existing framework, trying to convince members of Virginia’s Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission (MIRC) to jump on his side. That’s the group in charge of overseeing Medicaid reforms before expansion can occur.

“I think we’re taking a deliberate process to looking at the concept of the expansion of Medicaid,” commission member Del. John O’Bannon told NBC29 in September.

Stosch, also a member of the commission, says McAuliffe has already reached out to begin a dialogue.

“He has spoken to me once, and we have a meeting scheduled,” Stosch said. "I’m sure that will be one of the topics.”

A renewed fight over Medicaid expansion will be one of the biggest issues facing the 2014 General Assembly. Whichever road he chooses, McAuliffe will likely have to make some concessions to Republicans to accomplish his goal.

“We have a lot of work to do, but listen - we’re only going to do this working together,” McAuliffe said.

A poll released by Christopher Newport University in October shows a majority of Virginia voters support expansion.

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