Push for Medicaid expansion in Virginia not dead yet

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RICHMOND, Va. (WHSV) — Virginia's long-running debate about whether to expand Medicaid is half-alive after votes by both the House of Delegates and Senate on Thursday.


Virginia's House of Delegates voted 68-32 to adopt a new budget for the commonwealth that includes Medicaid expansion, which Gov. Ralph Northam has made a top priority.

Republicans want to mandate work requirements and cost-sharing provisions for some Medicaid recipients, and, in the House, some were willing to vote for the expansion in consideration of those options.

Others, including Delegates Wilt, Landes, Cline, and Dickie Bell, voted against the budget because they do not support expanding Medicaid for Virginia.

In the Senate, on the other hand, the amendment to include Medicaid expansion as part of the budget was rejected with a 21-19 vote.

Now, the House bill (with Medicaid expansion) will go to the Senate and the differences between the two proposals will be worked out in conference.

Many lawmakers weighed in with their statements on this latest development in the Medicaid expansion fight, and you can find those in the 'Related Info' section of this page.

Virginia estimates that nearly 400,000 low-income adults who don't qualify for other types of public health assistance would be newly eligible for Medicaid if it were to be expanded.

It's estimated that only about 300,000 people would actually sign up for the coverage. The cutoff is 138 percent of the poverty level, which is about $30,000 a year for an adult in a three-member household.

The federal government pays at least 90 percent of the costs of the Medicaid expansion population, as opposed to 50 percent in the existing program, which could potentially bring in about $2 billion a year in federal funds for Virginia.

Republican Corey Stewart, a GOP U.S. Senate hopeful, held a news conference where he repeatedly insulted Republicans who support expansion, including with innuendo like describing them as "flaccid."