As lawmakers in Richmond prepare for what's expected to be a brutal General Assembly session, they're talking about the health care reform bills from Washington and what those measures could do to an already bare bones budget.

"There could be some implications for how you deal with the session," legislative staffer Susan Massart told a panel Wednesday.

Members of the House Appropriations Committee, the group tasked with writing a $77 billion dollar budget, are worried about too many variables in the health care bills that could translate to major new costs for the Commonwealth.

97th District Republican Delegate Chris Peace asked, "The Appropriations Committee has already prepared their plans for the status quo and not for this type of change. What do we do then?"

At least one lawmaker says he might have a solution. 19th District Independent Delegate Lacey Putney, the committee's chairman, suggested "The possibility of coming into session, maybe recessing, let the members go back, except the money committees working on the budget, in order to give us time to see what they're going to do in Washington."

Putney said discussions about that plan were ongoing.

A delay could give budget writers a chance to understand the financial obligations required by federal health care bills. But it would also drag out the legislative session, a scenario that could cause problems of its own.

"I think we're going to have to wait and see and try to use the best estimate we can in terms of how this thing is rolling forward," Massart said.

Reported by Adam Rhew
See Bio / Email