We returned to the special session in Richmond on Tuesday, April 17, 2018, to debate the House Budget. The House budget includes Medicaid Expansion, which accesses federal dollars that are incorporated into our budget so that we can fund critical needs of the Commonwealth while insuring some 400,000 Virginians who do not yet have coverage. The House budget passed with a strong bipartisan majority. It is time to pass Medicaid Expansion in Virginia. [Read more…]
Since the House and Senate could not agree on a budget during the regular General Assembly Session, which adjourned in March, the Governor has called us back for a Special Session to get it done. The Special Session begins April 11, 2018, but no action will occur immediately on the budget. The new budget bill introduced by Governor Northam will have to go through the regular committee process just like the previous one. The House Appropriations Committee will begin its work quickly, and so it’s entirely possible that a House budget will be ready in time for floor debate on Tuesday, April 17 – but this could change depending on scheduling. We expect that the House budget will include Medicaid expansion and the hospital provider assessment, which allows us to expand without use of additional state dollars, much like it did in the regular Session, but we are not sure yet what will be included in the Senate’s budget. Because the Senate initially rejected Medicaid expansion and the provider assessment, its budget cut more than $400 million from education and other services that would have been funded by accepting the federal Medicaid dollars. While there has been some recent media coverage suggesting that Medicaid expansion will be adopted by the Senate, nothing is assured until the green lights go up on the vote board, and there will need to be considerable negotiations before a final budget compromise is reached. The momentum is positive, but Senate Republican leadership is now the main barrier, and we need to keep advocating for expansion. More than 7,000 citizens in our area would benefit from Medicaid expansion and it would certainly help our local hospitals by recapturing some of the money that would otherwise be spent on indigent care. You can watch the online live stream of the special session here. [Read more…]
The 2018 General Assembly Session adjourned on Saturday, March 10, without voting on a final budget bill. This is unusual but not unprecedented; in my first year, 2006, we deadlocked on a budget until June 28, and in 2014 we did not have a budget until June 23. I am confident we will pass a budget, but it appears that it will take some time for the House and the Senate to come to an agreement. I fully expect that if we do not have a budget early enough to fund government operations on July 1, Gov. Northam will likely propose a new budget and require us to vote on it. [Read more…]
We have one week to go in this General Assembly session, and the major issue left to resolve is the budget. In December 2017, Gov. McAuliffe introduced his last budget, and both the House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Finance Committee have been working on it since then. The House budget bill is dramatically different than the Senate’s budget, largely because the House is willing to expand healthcare coverage to thousands of Virginians by accepting federal Medicaid dollars. In the House budget, the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS) can apply immediately for expansion; DMAS is also directed to request a special waiver that will allow certain Medicaid recipients to receive workforce training, in hopes that able-bodied recipients may then obtain employment or provide community service. The Senate budget does not include the Medicaid expansion monies from the governor’s budget, with the result that the Senate had to cut more than $400 million from Gov. McAuliffe’s introduced budget. [Read more…]
While Virginians can rest a little easier today as the latest Republican assault on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been defeated, challenges remain, and could find their way into the next General Assembly session.
Since Donald Trump’s inauguration as President in January, Virginians have been dodging bullets from Washington, D.C., as the White House and Republicans in the U.S. House and Senate propose policy after policy, which, if enacted, would dramatically impact our citizens, particularly those who are most disadvantaged.
Many citizens have focused intently on the Russia probe, Trump’s tweets, his travel ban, his treatment of our allies, his boorish behavior, his attacks on his own Attorney General, on transgender military personnel, and even his not-so-subtle efforts to undermine the 1st Amendment. But while we are justifiably concerned about all of these issues, Virginians and our economic security are put even more at risk from other policies that Trump and his allies are advocating, particularly in the health care arena. Virginia Republicans, from Ed Gillespie to members of the House of Delegates, have either fully embraced these hurtful policies, or have tacitly done so by remaining silent. [Read more…]