NORFOLK -- Governor Terry McAuliffe (D-VA) again pushed for expanding Medicaid in Virginia, laying blame for the impasse squarely on Republicans in the House of Delegates.
McAuliffe, in Norfolk Tuesday, told members of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce that it's not about politics, it's about money. Expanding Medicaid is a key part of the Affordable Care Act and the federal government has promised to cover most of the costs for state's that agree to expansion. McAuliffe said Virginia could lose as much as $20 billion in taxes over the next eight years if something isn't done now to close the medical insurance gap.
"You may hate the health care bill," McAuliffe said. "That's your right. Doesn't matter to me. It's the law of the land and we've got to deal with it."
McAuliffe laid blame about the current stalemate over the state's $96 billion, two-year budget clearly with House Republicans. He said they refuse to even talk to him about the Medicaid issue.
Glenn Davis (R-84th D.) countered, saying House Republicans are not the bad guys.
"People on both sides really want to do the right thing and help those that find themselves in the gap of coverage," he said. "But you need to do so in a manner that not only helps those people that need it, but also in a manner that protects the taxpayers of the Commonwealth of Virginia."
Still, business leaders worry about the overall state budget remaining in a state of limbo while the Medicaid debate drags on.
"It's very concerning. Obviously, we want a budget passed. We want to ensure that schools and the hospitals and other entities within the area can plan their budgets accordingly," said Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce President Bryan Stephens.
McAuliffe late Tuesday signed the so-called Caboose Budget Bill, which funds state government through the remainder of the fiscal year (July 1). Work continues on the next two-year budget.
“This budget is a compromise – it is not perfect. Today I signed it over reservations that I have expressed to Republicans and Democrats in the legislature about spending over $300 million on a new General Assembly building at a time when some legislators continue to refuse to use our own tax dollars to close the health care coverage gap," he said.
He added there are 400,000 Virginians who need access to health care.