Delegates Speak on Medicaid Expansion at Albemarle Town Hall

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Poster at town hall meeting Poster at town hall meeting

The controversial debate over Medicaid expansion is preventing the passage of the state budget. Monday night, those on both sides of the issue sat down to talk about moving forward at a town hall meeting in Albemarle County.

Delegates Rob Bell and Steve Landes were part of a passionate debate over Medicaid Monday at a town hall held at the Albemarle County Office Building. They heard from those against it, along with supporters, and others who just want the issue of Medicaid expansion to be resolved.

"The governor said he is not willing to sign a budget unless it includes a Medicaid expansion,” said Bell.

Virginia's Senate says it's time to accept the program, while Republicans just want proof that it can be financially stable. Bell and Landes explained their opposition Monday.

"Medicaid has grown in 1985 from 5 percent of the budget to its current 20 percent of the budget and it will be 22 percent absent the expansion. I believe that that's already unsustainable,” said Bell.

"We needed more information related to both the programmatic aspects of our Medicaid program and the financial impact currently and what Medicaid expansion and the reforms would have on Virginia’s budget,” said Landes.

Prior to Monday’s town hall meeting, supporters of Medicaid expansion, including members of Virginia Organizing, rallied to send a message.

"We want to show how much support we have as you can tell the people really want it. These are not just people who are personally affected but because we care about, our brothers and sisters in need as well,” said Dell Erwin, who supports Medicaid expansion.

Meanwhile, others say the issue needs to be resolved to avoid a government shutdown.

“My Board of Supervisors and my school board are asking where will the money be for the schools, the sheriff, etc. if the budget from the state is not settled. So I encourage you to try and settle the issue,” said someone who spoke at the town hall meeting.

State lawmakers will return to the capitol this Wednesday, but a deal on the state's two-year budget could still be weeks away.