From mental health to education, Virginia lawmakers found middle ground on a number of issues this session. But after rolling out their budgets this weekend, the House and Senate find themselves at odds on a tricky issue: Medicaid expansion.
The Senate thinks it has found a way to expand health coverage to more people through a different means, but House Republicans say they're not willing to play ball.
The Senate plan would recapture some of the state tax dollars paid to the federal government under the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as "Obamacare," but rather than expand Medicaid, they would use that money to help purchase private insurance for low-income individuals who don't qualify for Medicaid or Obamacare subsidies.
Republicans and Democrats in the Senate say this is a good, pro-business solution. But House Republicans don't agree.
“We want to make sure we have the best information and we know what's going on with our system before we go down that path,” said 25th District Delegate Steve Landes (R).
“We've had significant disagreements in the past; I think this is one of those that's reconcilable if we can settle down and use an informed judgment,” said 12th District Senator Walter Stosch (R).
Lawmakers have until March 8 - less than three weeks - to hammer out a deal on Medicaid, and the state budget as a whole. All involved seem energized to find a way to reach across houses and across the aisle. But if Medicaid expansion doesn't happen this year, Democrats say they're prepared to bring it back up again in 2015.