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VA Medicaid Expansion
VA Medicaid Expansion

VA Medicaid Expansion (11)

The state battle over expanding medicaid is affecting local healthcare providers.

The Free Clinic of Franklin County is re-thinking how it will provide services to the uninsured population.

The Senate Finance Committee advanced a new state budget without Medicaid expansion, but the deal fast-tracked by legislative leaders was delayed Thursday night after a Republican senator proposed an amendment aimed at preventing Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe from expanding the program without General Assembly approval.

Sen. Phillip P. Puckett, D-Russell, will announce Monday that he is resigning his state Senate seat, suddenly giving Republicans a 20-19 edge in the chamber and dealing a setback to Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s push to expand Medicaid.

Puckett’s stunning resignation throws Democratic budget strategy into chaos and opens the way for Republicans to seize control of the chamber and reorganize its committees with GOP majorities.

Virginia State Senator Frank M. Ruff’s (R) ardent opposition to the Medicaid expansion offered to the states under the Affordable Care Act took a new turn on Tuesday. Ruff confirmed to ThinkProgress that he “compared reliance on promised funds to provide health insurance for thousands of low-income Virginians to a ‘tar baby,’” a statement that was first reported in the Virginian-Pilot.

Virginia legislators return to the Capitol on Wednesday intending to wrap up some unfinished business but with no plans to tackle the budget and Medicaid stalematesthat could ultimately shut down the state government.

The General Assembly will hold its annual “veto session” to complete work from the regular session that ended March 8. But no action is expected on the biggest issues looming over Richmond: Medicaid expansion and, because that matter was folded into the Senate’s two-year, $96 billion state spending plan, the budget.

The Virginia Senate approved its version of a roughly $96 billion two-year budget Tuesday as Republicans and Democrats pointed fingers over who is responsible for a potential state government shutdown.

Two weeks after the start of a special session devoted to passing a state budget, the Democratically controlled Senate approved a spending plan that includes accepting federal Medicaid funds to provide new health insurance to as many as 400,000 low-income residents.

Virginia’s on-again, off-again special session got rolling again Tuesday, as hundreds of lobbyists and activists on opposite sides of the state’s Medicaid battle crammed into a Senate hearing on whether to expand the program through the state budget. The hearing was the first sign of life from the Senate since last week, when the chamber went home one day into the special budget session, leaving the House and its two-year, $96 billion spending plan hanging.

State Sen. Thomas A. Garrett Jr. says Uncle Sam is doling disappearing dollars to entice states to expand their Medicaid programs.

"This money is guaranteed for a few years, and then goes away," Garrett, R-Louisa, wrote in an op-ed that ran earlier this month in The Free-Lance Star and the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Virginia Republicans were supposed to be squirming by now. For months, their opposition to expanding Medi­caid under the Affordable Care Act has put them at odds with some traditional allies in the business world.

Seventh District Republican Rep. Eric Cantor has helped lead the fight against Obamacare. But the Republican majority leader’s continued tenure in the House of Representatives may be the key to allowing Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe to win the Medicaid expansion envisioned by the very law Cantor opposes.  While counterintuitive, let’s examine this political logic.

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