Medicaid Grudge Match Continues Monday in Richmond

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If you're waiting for any sort of real state budget resolution in Richmond you're going to need to continue to be patient. When lawmakers return to Richmond Monday, can we expect a break in the stalemate? Recent history says, don't hold your breath.

Lawmakers are getting back in the ring again next week, still chasing an elusive deal on Medicaid expansion and the two-year, $97 billion state budget.

“Medicaid expansion needs to be decoupled from the budget,” said 28th District Speaker Bill Howell (R).

In one corner, House and some Senate Republicans who want the Medicaid debate separated from budget deliberations.

“Democrats are using the budget for leverage. We think that's the wrong way to govern, we think it's irresponsible,” said Howell.

In the other corner, Virginia Democrats, who aren't throwing in the towel yet either.

When the Senate finance committee approves a budget Monday, it will include some sort of health care expansion - either something like Governor McAuliffe’s two-year Medicaid expansion pilot, or a private insurance-based alternative favored by business leaders.

“Why are we not bringing this money back to Virginia to help our folks,” said McAuliffe.

“I'm pretty much a lifelong Republican. I'm a fiscal conservative, and this has nothing to do with politics. It has everything to do with money and taking care of people,” said Sheppard Miller, Norfolk businessman.

Whatever happens, the main event is yet to come, when the House and Senate budgets go head-to-head in conference committee. The conference committee could begin meeting as early as Tuesday, after both Houses reconvene.

The Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission will also meet Monday to review reforms to the Medicaid system, and the options for expansion.