As part of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, states have the option to expand Medicaid coverage, and accept federal government money to pay for it. 400,000 low-income Virginians would have health care coverage starting next year. So far, Virginia leaders have not joined the expansion.
Democrat Terry McAuliffe is counting on it to pay for his agenda.
“This is bipartisan, mainstream. We`re going to bring back to Virginia over the course of the next seven years 21 billion dollars of our money that we`re paying in,” says McAuliffe.
But Ken Cuccinelli and most Republicans in the General Assembly are against it. For the first three years the Federal Government pays for 100% of the expansion. After that, Virginians would have to start paying in. five percent in 2017 and ten percent after 2020. Cuccinelli says it`s no free ride.
“This is basically his funding mechanism for everything he wants to do. So, it`s clear he`s very committed to Medicaid expansion. But it`s not the be-all and end-all to Virginia`s budget,” says Cuccinelli.
A ODU poll released last week showed a majority of likely voters, 64 percent, agrees with McAuliffe that Virginia should accept the Medicaid money.
But the real test would come in the House of Delegates, where Republicans hold a big majority. McAuliffe would have to use all of his salesman skills to convince them to approve it.
It isn`t sexy and it doesn`t grab any headlines, but a lot of your tax dollars and a lot of Virginians’ healthcare is on the line with Medicaid expansion. It`s just one more way to help you decide which candidate to vote for.