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“By refusing to expand the program, we’ve forfeited $10.4 billion and we will continue to forego $6.6 million every day we do not take action,” according to the Democratic governor.
The Virginia House of Delegates voted on Wednesday 66-34—along party lines—to kill Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s latest plan to expand the state’s Medicaid program, which would have covered an additional 400,000 residents.
This isn’t the first time Republicans in the House have stymied a Medicaid expansion initiative from the Democratic governor. McAuliffe entered office in 2014 making it clear that expansion would be a big priority for his administration, but GOP members of the legislature have blocked such measures each year of the governor’s time in office.
This vote is of particular significance as it comes on the heels of a failed attempt by Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives to roll back Medicaid as part of their Affordable Care Act replacement. That bill, the American Health Care Act, would have rendered irrelevant Virginia’s expansion legislation which was pending at the time.
In a statement released following the vote, McAuliffe expressed frustration over the particular timing of the GOP block:
“I am disappointed that Republicans in the General Assembly continue to put politics before the health of the people of Virginia. In light of President Trump’s failed attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the Commonwealth has no excuses left to hold out on Medicaid expansion. By refusing to expand the program, we’ve forfeited $10.4 billion and we will continue to forego $6.6 million every day we do not take action.”
McAuliffe, for his part, is still determined to find a way to get an expansion plan through his state’s legislature.
Virginia’s governor is not alone in his defeat. This is, in fact, the second Medicaid expansion plan to be rejected this week. On Monday, the Kansas House failed to override Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s veto of their state’s Medicaid expansion package. The legislative body was a mere three votes shy of the 84 it needed to overturn Brownback’s opposition.
Quinn Libson is a Staff Correspondent for Government Executive’s Route Fifty, based in Washington, D.C.