Activists Demonstrate Disappointment in Failed Medicaid Expansio - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Activists Demonstrate Disappointment in Failed Medicaid Expansion

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With Republicans steadily gaining more influence in Virginia, the hopes of seeing Medicaid expansion is fading. Democrats and other activists expressed disappointment Tuesday in light of strong actions taken on the House floor in Richmond Monday.

Both sides could argue that political flexing is distracting from the real issue here, but when Speaker of the House Bill Howell shut down Governor Terry McAuliffe’s ongoing efforts to expand Medicaid Monday night, activists made a symbolic move to show their disgust.

Activists crowded the gallery at the House meeting Monday night to show their support for Medicaid expansion and closing the coverage gap, but when they felt lawmakers were turning their backs on Virginians - they displayed their disappointment quite literally by turning their backs and walking out.

"The legislature is really turning their backs on Virginians. Turning their backs on the 400,000 Virginians that need care,” said Anna Scholl, executive director of ProgressVA.

Activists in favor of Medicaid expansion, like Scholl, say they wanted to express feelings that this is not the ethical choice.

"It is disappointing that the speaker and the tea party members in his caucus continue to prioritize political games and scoring points over the health of their constituents,” said Scholl.

Republican lawmakers have stood against accepting federal funding to expand Medicaid, saying there is no moral high ground here.

"We are people that care very much about Virginians. And we really to the depths of our heart believe this would be a mistake for the people of Virginia,” said 66th District Delegate Kirk Cox (R).

Speculation continues over whether the governor will now go to the courts to resolve this. While McAuliffe’s office will not comment at this point, a statement released after the General Assembly meeting said:

"I remain focused on expanding access to health care for Virginia residents, and I intend to move forward on that goal as I have promised.”

Ultimately, the speaker said when it comes to the line-item veto the governor does not have the legal right to write off one part of the amendment while still moving forward with funding for the budget.

It remains to be seen what the governor's next step will be.

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