Push for Medicaid expansion in Virginia not dead yet

Published: Feb. 22, 2018 at 3:45 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

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

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


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."

Statements from local lawmakers on their votes on Medicaid expansion in the Virginia budget






RICHMOND, VA ̶ Del. R. Steven Landes, R-Weyers Cave, Vice Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, today casted a no vote on final passage of House Bills 29 and 30. This was the first time in his 23 years of service to the Virginia House of Delegates he has voted against the House Budget.


“Today I voted against passage of House Bills 29 and 30 for the sole reason that Medicaid expansion is not the best course for Virginia’s budget or for all our citizens young and old. Medicaid expansion is not right for the long-term fiscal health of the Commonwealth of Virginia and our citizens,” said Landes. “Every single Member of the House wants to provide healthcare to our citizens. We have adopted policies and provided the necessary funding with state resources, and done so without entangling Virginia with a failed federal policy and the strings that come with it. We are now heading down a path we have not travelled before and becoming more like Washington, and moving further away from the Virginia way.”


The House of Delegates voted on final passage of its state budget today. House Bill 29 passed with a 69 to 31 vote and House Bill 30 passed with a 68 to 32 vote. February 28th is the last day for the Virginia House of Delegates and Virginia State Senate to act on the budget bills. The reconvened session to address Governor Ralph Northam’s amendments and vetoes will be held April 18, 2018.


Landes represents the 25th House District, which includes parts of Albemarle, Augusta, and Rockingham Counties. Landes is currently serving his twelfth term in the Virginia House of Delegates. Visit SteveLandes.com for additional information.





Statement from Delegate Dickie Bell on Budget Vote RICHMOND- The House of Delegates took up consideration of the biennial budget on Thursday, February 22. The budget bill was approved on a vote of 68-32. Delegate Richard P. “Dickie” Bell (R-Staunton) voted against the bill and issued the following statement following the vote: “Today the House of Delegates voted to pass our biennial budget. The budget presented today on the House floor was a budget that included a proposal to expand Medicaid in the Commonwealth. While the proposal is represented as a healthcare reform compromise between the Republicancontrolled House of Delegates and the Democratic Governor, make no mistake; this is still Medicaid expansion. “The costs of Virginia’s current Medicaid program are already out of control. In the current biennium alone Virginia’s Medicaid costs grew by nearly $600 million and spending has grown by 7225% over the last 30 years. This rate of growth is unsustainable. “The numbers for states that have already expanded are troubling. In expansion states, costs were on average 60% higher per-capita than projected. In Kentucky alone enrollment was more than double budgeted expectations and in Oregon the Democrat controlled legislature considered backing out of expansion to balance a $1.6 billion budget shortfall. “The federal government is $20 trillion in debt and that number is growing. I have serious concerns that they will not be able to maintain their 90% commitment. Despite claims to the contrary by supporters of this plan, the future of the program or the federal funding commitment is by no means a guarantee. In fact, the future of the ACA could not be more uncertain. Though they have been so far unable to repeal the ACA, the Trump Administration and Congress are actively discussing roll backs to Medicaid Expansion. This in turn would mean that states that have already expanded would need to adjust their budgets to cover expansion. This would be to the detriment of education, public safety, and other core functions of government. “I still believe that the expansion of Medicaid will not address the access issues for low-income Virginians, nor will it address the rising premiums for middle class families or the skyrocketing costs that businesses are facing to sponsor employee plans. The General Assembly has put forth several proposals that seek to address these underlying issues by filing legislation that allows insurance policies that match benefits with individual consumer needs, and that increases competition and transparency in the healthcare marketplace. 2 “Voting against the House Budget was not a decision that I made lightly. There are many items in the budget that I would be glad to support. I cannot in good conscience, however, support a budget that and I believe will ultimately put funding for all our other core services at risk for years to come. I remain hopeful that the final version of the budget that comes out of the conference committee will be a proposal that responsibly invests in our core functions of government with targeted support for individuals most in need, without the fiscally irresponsible expansion of Medicaid.”



Statement of Ben Cline on House Budget
RICHMOND – Delegate Ben Cline (R-24) issued the following statement today regarding the House of Delegates budget:
“Today, I voted against the proposed House budget because it includes Medicaid expansion funded by a tax increase.  I could not with good conscience support expanding a broken program that will continue to balloon Virginia’s budget and occupy scarce taxpayer dollars. We must be good stewards of every penny we ask taxpayers to send to Richmond and not look to the questionable promise of uncertain taxpayer dollars from Washington, D.C.”
“I will continue to lead the fight against Obamacare, which has been a disaster from day one.  Instead of affordable care, Obamacare has led to skyrocketing premiums, reduced consumer choices, and unaffordable healthcare for far too many people in the Sixth Congressional District and across the Commonwealth of Virginia.  Medicaid is supposed to be a safety net, but what we are looking at today is a dangerous fiscal cliff for Virginia.”
“We have a responsibility to the Commonwealth’s citizens to pass a budget that is balanced and fiscally sound.  I will continue to fight for the conservative economic principles we have long relied on to govern in Virginia: fiscal responsibility and limited government.” 
Cline represents the 24th House District, including the Cities of Lexington and Buena Vista, Bath County, Rockbridge County, and parts of Amherst and Augusta Counties. He was elected in 2002, and re-elected in November 2017. Cline is a member of the House Commerce and Labor Committee, the Finance Committee, the Courts of Justice Committee, and he is chair of the Militia, Police, and Public Safety Committee.  In addition, he is House Co-Chairman of the Conservative Caucus.