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Balancing Medicaid Looks to Be Tall Task for the General Assembly


With the General Assembly session weeks away, state leaders are already worried about balancing the books for the next budget. And one issue is proving to be particularly difficult. 

The General Assembly is going to have a heck of a time balancing the books this year. That’s because Medicaid is costing $281 million more than expected. Frank Shafroth at George Mason University says it's a budget hole that's likely to increase. 

“People are living longer, so the percentage of Virginia’s budget that’s going to Medicaid — even without any changes from the new administration — is likely to grow."

Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe hoped to balance the books with new federal money that would have come with expanding Medicaid. But now, says Geoff Skelley at the University of Virginia Center for Politics, that seems out of reach. 

“To some degree you have to figure this is just providing more ammunition for Republicans who have opposed efforts to expand Medicaid. They’ll argue that, well, it’s proven to be more costly."

The Affordable Care Act would pick up at least 90 percent of the cost for expanding Medicaid, but a new Republican administration might change that funding formula, potentially threatening health insurance for people who live in poverty or with disabilities.