Medicaid Debate Sends General Assembly into Overtime - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Medicaid Debate Sends General Assembly into Overtime

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Virginia lawmakers are heading into overtime. With a budget deal unlikely before Saturday's scheduled adjournment, the General Assembly is expected to pack up and head home temporarily, leaving behind some unfinished business.

House and Senate lawmakers will not be happy leaving Saturday without a budget deal. But it won't be the first time they've had to come back to hash it out on a tough issue. As recently as 2004 and 2006, lawmakers have returned for a special session to debate tough budget items. This time, the debate centers around expanding healthcare to as many as 400,000 Virginians under the Affordable Care Act.

House Republicans oppose it as an expansion of Obamacare, while Democrats and some Senate Republicans say it will bring millions in federal tax dollars back to Virginia.

Veteran Republican Senator John Watkins remains optimistic.

“I've never known us to leave here without a budget. Take a breather, let the air out, and come back ready to get some work done,” Watkins said.

Without a budget deal before the regular session adjourns Saturday, Governor Terry McAuliffe says he will call a special session of the General Assembly on March 24. That will give lawmakers about two weeks to head home, listen to their constituents, and return with focus set on one issue: healthcare expansion in the state budget.

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