State leaders are divided over the best way to close a $1.5 billion budget shortfall. But Governor McAuliffe is taking the opportunity to once again press for expanding Medicaid.
It’s a familiar theme, one that has played out over and over again. Democrats and Governor Terry McAuliffe say the best way to balance the books is taking money that comes with expanding Medicaid to 400,000 Virginians who live in poverty or with disabilities.
“How can we possibly be turning away $211 million annually for our budget? We can’t. We’ve got to stop the partisan politics. We need to do what’s right for the citizens of the commonwealth of Virginia."
What’s different this year is that it’s playing out against a backdrop of mounting financial concerns. Over the last decade, Medicaid spending in Virginia increased 96 percent. That’s a $1.8 billion increase. Republican Delegate Dave Albo of Springfield says the state can’t afford to expand the program.
“We are $1.2 billion in the hole, and we don’t think it’s a good idea to obligate ourselves to another social program that will eventually cost us $700 million a year."
Expanding Medicaid was a central part of McAuliffe’s campaign for governor. And so far, he’s been unable to accomplish it. His term ends in January 2018.