Republican Accuses McAuliffe of Forcing Medicaid Expansion on Virginians

By Ali Meyer | March 13, 2014 | 9:56am EDT

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) (AP File Photo)

( – Virginia’s new Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe is trying to “force-feed the people of Virginia a federal government-based healthcare policy that is wreaking havoc with everything it touches,” said State Sen. Bryce Reeves (R-Spotsylvania) in a statement released on Wednesday.

The Virginia General Assembly ended its 60-day legislative session on March 8, unable to pass a two-year budget because of disagreements over Medicaid expansion. Gov. McAuliffe, who backs Medicaid expansion, announced on the same day that he would call a special session of the General Assembly on March 24 to resolve the issues.

“The governor is rejecting a bipartisan-passed budget only to dig Virginians into a bigger Obamacare hole,” Reeves said.

McAuliffe says expanding the state’s Medicaid rolls – something the U.S. Supreme Court left up to the states -- would bring coverage to 400,000 uninsured Virginians and create about 33,000 jobs by 2021.

But opponents of the measure say there’s no reason to tie up the budget over Medicaid expansion.

Virginia Speaker William Howell (R-Stafford) tweeted, “Holding Virginia’s budget hostage to Obamacare is wrong. Tell @TerryMcAuliffe to pass a clean budget.”

Reeves said Obamacare is hurting people: “People are losing their health insurance plans, people suffering from terminal illnesses are now unable to get their treatments, premiums are going up, not down, and the law is already a job killer with more to come

“Union friends of President Obama just this week released a report saying that Obamacare will slash wages, cut worker hours, and limit access to health insurance, yet Governor McAuliffe is trying to force it, for partisan political reasons, on the Commonwealth,” said Reeves.

“We as citizens of the state know best how to provide for our health care needs, we don’t need the federal government, which can’t even build a website, to try to do this for us.”

McAuliffe's predecessor, Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell, rejected Medicaid expansion in Virginia because he didn't believe the federal government would keep its funding promise to the states.

The Affordable Care Act expanded Medicaid to include individuals between the ages of 19 and 65 with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. The federal government promises to pay 100 percent of the cost for newly eligible adults for three years, and 90 percent of the cost thereafter in states that agree to the expansion.

But McDonnell had his doubts: "I mean, the federal government's broke. $17 trillion in debt -- 100 percent for three years, and 90 percent thereafter -- I'm not sure they can do it," McDonnell told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Nov. 14, 2013.

"Well, they might for a year or two, and then times get a little bit tougher, and you gotta balance the budget. We're heading south already with deficits...but here's the real reason:

“What we've said in Virginia is, we're not opposed to it (Medicaid expansion) philosophically, but until we have dramatic reform in the Medicaid system that's grown 1600 percent in 30 years … until we got some significant reforms -- deal with dual eligibles and co-pays and some other wouldn't be responsible to do that."

25 states and the District of Columbia have agreed to expand their Medicaid programs, and McAuliffe argues that Virginia’s Medicaid reforms already are making the system more cost-efficient.

He told the General Assembly  in January that failure to expand Medicaid means the state “will forego $2.1 billion annually in federal funding over the next three years. That is more than $5 million per day.

“That money represents tax payments that Virginians have sent – and will continue to send -- to Washington regardless of whether we seize this opportunity or not. This is simply a good deal for the states that choose to take it.”

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