STAUNTON, Va. (WHSV) -- Now that the Affordable Care Act is in effect, the focus has shifted to a possible Medicaid expansion in Virginia.
Next week in Richmond when the General Assembly reconvenes, all eyes will be on the empty Senate seat Attorney General-elect Mark Herring left behind.
That seat could make a difference when it comes to the hotly debated Medicaid expansion.
"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 Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe at a gathering of reporters last month.
The Virginia Hospital and Health Care Association estimates expanding Medicaid would extend coverage to 400,000 low-income Virginians, but not without upfront costs.
It is an issue that's gotten a lot of opposition from the GOP, but in the Republican Party of Virginia's year-end survey, it was not even mentioned.
Political analyst Dr. David McQuilkin doesn't see a Medicaid expansion in Virginia's future unless governor-elect McAuliffe acts by executive order.
He feels that Republicans and Democrats are too divided on the issue.
"It's an ideological question. It's an ideological issue. And as long as you remain ideological in your position, you're going to have the two parties being at loggerheads," said McQuilkin.
The race for Herring's empty Senate seat will ultimately decide who controls the state Senate.
A special election later this month will determine who will fill the seat.
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