McAuliffe renews push for Medicaid expansion in Virginia

March 27, 2017 GMT

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe is renewing his push to expand Medicaid coverage, saying state Republicans have no excuses left after President Donald Trump’s failed attempt to overhaul health care.

But the governor is likely facing the same long odds he’s faced throughout his time in office, as top state GOP lawmakers say their opposition to Medicaid expansion has not changed.

McAuliffe, a Democrat, held a news conference Monday to make the case for expanding the publicly funded health care program for the poor, saying the state is losing out on $6.6 million a day in federal money by not expanding Medicaid eligibility to roughly 400,000 low-income adults. McAuliffe has proposed a budget amendment that would give him power to expand Medicaid, saying the issue had gained new urgency after Trump’s defeat last week in repealing the Affordable Care Act.


“There are no excuses anymore,” McAuliffe said. “We’re done.”

But leaders in the GOP-controlled General Assembly quickly rejected McAuliffe’s suggestion, saying their opposition to Medicaid expansion remains the smart move.

“We rejected expansion in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and again in 2017 because it was the wrong policy for the commonwealth,” GOP House leadership said in a statement. “The lack of action in Washington has not changed that and in fact, the uncertainty of federal health policy underscores the need to be cautious over the long term.”

They said they would reject McAuliffe’s proposed budget amendment when the General Assembly returns to Richmond in April.

Under the Affordable Care Act, states can expand Medicaid to cover people making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $16,640 for an individual. The federal government picks up almost all of the cost, gradually phasing down to a 90 percent share.

About half the 31 states that accepted Medicaid expansion have Republican governors. McAuliffe has pointed to GOP support for Medicaid expansion in other states as he’s tried unsuccessfully to expand in Virginia.