Virginia House Republicans are calling in some outside help to fight Medicaid expansion. They say it's a costly bet for Virginia but Governor Terry McAuliffe says the real cost would be saying no to a plan that could bring millions of dollars back to the commonwealth.
Medicaid expansion is the big issue everyone is talking about as they work on a two-year budget. There's a compromise on the table, but House Republicans are skeptical.
Rather than expand the existing Medicaid system, Senate lawmakers want to use federal dollars to create a private insurance marketplace for low-income Virginians, modeled after a plan in Arkansas. But House Republicans say Virginia is rushing the process to expand health coverage.
On a GOP conference call Tuesday morning, an Arkansas Republican called his state's plan a "bad deal." But McAuliffe says Virginia's plan is a good one, and it's time for House Republicans to negotiate.
“We're all working together; it's just the House leadership that is saying 'no, no, no' and won't come together to begin talking about what we should do to move Virginia forward,” McAuliffe said.
McAuliffe says the Senate's plan has the support of many Virginia hospitals and chambers of commerce. House Republicans say more reforms to the Medicaid system are needed before health care expansion.
With three and a half weeks left in the regular session, the governor's office says it will be pushing hard on this issue. But the real work lies in the hands of lawmakers, who will likely begin hammering out the budget in conference committee next week.