As early as January 2014, House Republicans promised a plan to address the 400,000 Virginians who fall into the health insurance coverage gap because they make too little money to qualify for subsidies under the Affordable Care Act, but make too much money to qualify for Medicaid. The Governor and Democrats have offered, over the last eight months, three separate proposals by which we could access several billion dollars in federal monies to provide coverage. As you may recall, present Medicaid spending is matched, dollar-for-dollar, with federal monies. With the proposed Medicaid expansion, however, the federal government would pay 100 percent of the cost for the first several years, eventually dropping to 90 percent. I believe that this is a good deal for the Commonwealth. We could take monies that we save in the first years and apply it to the later years in the event that the federal government does not live up to its responsibility, a fear cited by House Republicans as a reason not to expand Medicaid, but an unlikely event.
Democratic proposals since January 2014 have included a two-year pilot plan advanced by Gov. McAuliffe; straight Medicaid expansion; and “Marketplace Virginia,” a proposal offered by Senate Democrats and Republicans to use federal monies to buy private health insurance through private companies. All of these plans have been summarily rejected by the House Republicans.
During the budget dispute in the spring, the Republicans promised a “full and fair debate” over Medicaid so long as it was separated from the budget. That occurred, and the Republicans scheduled this so-called full and fair debate for last Thursday, September 18, 2014. The “full and fair debate” consisted of a 15-minute discussion in the Rules Committee about another compromise proposal on Medicaid expansion, and a short debate on the House floor with the result predetermined. The Republican answer was another “No.” If you want to see some of the debate on this issue, click here; for my floor speech on the issue, click here.
Our meeting last Thursday also brought a compromise on addressing our budget shortfall. If you want to see my comments on how we should try to close some tax preferences to make up our budget shortfall, you can click here.
Finally, three new judges were appointed for our district, and they will take their seats on December 1, 2014. Although I continue to believe that the selection of judges is overly-partisan, I offer my congratulations to the three that were appointed, Judge Richard Moore, Deborah Tinsley, and David Barredo. I am confident that they will be very effective judges and will serve this community admirably.
Please feel free to contact me with your concerns. It is an honor to represent you in the General Assembly.
P.S.: I want to express my thanks and gratitude to the citizens of this community, the local and state police, City Police Chief Tim Longo, and Secretary of Public Safety Brian Moran for all the work being done to bring Hannah Graham home. I was at JPJ Command Central last Saturday and Sunday and watched the volunteers stream in from around the Commonwealth and nation. I saw the line up of City School buses, UVA buses, and Jaunt buses at 7:30am on Sundayready to take the teams of volunteers out into the field to search for Hannah. The generosity and caring of this community is remarkable.