Monday, February 24, 2014

GENERAL ASSEMBLY BUDGET DEAL PIVOTS ON MEDICAID EXPANSION

Recent votes in the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates have put the two chambers at odds over the consideration of Medicaid expansion in the Commonwealth. 

The Democrat controlled Senate along with Senate Republicans Hanger, Stosch and Watkins voted to advance a budget with an amendment that would create funding and structure for Medicaid expansion.  The Senate voted 23-17 to advance the budget over to the House of Delegates for cross-over vote.  

The Virginia Delegates voted 67-32 on their version of the budget.  The Delegate budget did not provide funding for the expansion of Medicaid.  Delegate Rust was the lone Republican who voted against the budget plan.  And, one Democat, Delegate Joannou, voted for the Delegate budget.  With the Virginia House of Delegates in strong control of the Republicans, the Senate version with expansion will meet a quick end.

However, Virginia needs to advance a budget for the fiscal year.  The General Assembly ends its 2014 session on March 8.  Yet, a budget must be agreed to no later than June 30 to avoid a true stalemate with government shutdown.

With both chambers at loggerheads, a budget conference committee will soon go to work to hammer out an agreement.  The conference committee will have representatives from the Senate and the House.  Their negotiations will for the most part be closed to the public.  

To assure Medicaid expansion is stripped from the budget, it is most important to let the Delegates serving on the budget conference committee know your opinion.  As the Senate Democrats will not turn back from their hardened ideals.  Here are the Virginia Delegates serving on the conference committee:
  • Delegate Steve Landes (R)
  • Delegate Kirk Cox (R)
  • Delegate Chris Jones (R)
  • Delegate John O'Bannon III (R)
  • Delegate Tag Greason (R)
  • Delegate Johnny Joannu (D)
Key points to consider in opposition to Medicaid expansion:
  • Republicans have presented excellent Medicaid reform proposals to audit and fix many of the broken elements of Virginia's Medicaid system.  These reforms were publicly presented via the MIRC commission in 2013.
  • Virginia's Medicaid system is truly broken.  Thereby hindering health care for the most in need.  1 in 3 Virginia physicians no longer accept new Medicaid patients.  The level of effective care to properly treat patients lags behind traditional health care delivery.
  • The Democrats and Governor McAuliffe want to put 400,000 new Medicaid patients into a system that cannot adequately care for current patients.  How would you like to be thrust into a broken health care system?
  • Medicaid expansion is a one-way street.  If Virginia commits to expansion, we cannot go back to the federal payment system.  We are on our own with massive costs.  Billions of federal funding will disappear in three years.
  • States, like Arkansas, that have already gone with expansion now realize the pitfalls of Medicaid without federal purse strings.
  • The burden on Virginia taxpayers.  Expansion will cost taxpayers almost $2 Billion per year.  After the federal funds run dry, the cost may soar into the billions more.

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