Lawmakers Gathered to Prepare for General Assembly


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RICHMOND, Va. (WHSV) -- Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe was among the leaders meeting today in Richmond to talk about the changes ahead for Virginia.

Health care was a topic that took up much of Wednesday afternoon, with a panel discussion on that very topic.

The discussion brought to light the troubles lawmakers face heading into next month's new session of the General Assembly.

Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe said health care and expanding Medicaid is one of the biggest issues he and the General Assembly will face.

"In one of the most prosperous states in one of the most prosperous nations in the world, there is no excuse for denying hundreds of thousands of our neighbors access to life-saving health care that people in other states are getting," said McAuliffe.

Expanding Medicaid is an issue that stems from the Affordable Care Act.

"The only way you can add that kind of coverage that has that kind of expense to it and make it up is to broaden the pool," said Doug Gray with the Virginia Association of Health Plans.

One delegate on the panel said Medicaid is already the fastest-growing expense in the budget and they will need to reform the program before expanding it.

"I'll tell you this, we must do something. We cannot afford to do nothing," said Delegate John O'Bannon, a Republican who represents Virginia's 73rd district.

Meanwhile, legislators are trying to find a way to make progress on a contentious issue.

"Those of us in the Senate are trying to work with the House and private providers to come up with a grand bargain, if you will, that will allow us politically to move forward," said Senator Emmett Hanger, a Republican who represents Virginia's 24th district and is a member of the Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission.


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