RICHMOND (AP) — The General Assembly has passed a state budget after adopting an amendment to ensure that Gov. Terry McAuliffe cannot expand Medicaid without legislative approval.
The Republican-backed amendment passed on a 20-19 party-line vote Thursday night after hours of internal GOP wrangling. The Senate then voted 21-18 to pass the budget. The House then passed the amended bill 69-31.
Medicaid expansion was the sticking point that prevented the General Assembly from passing a budget in the session that ended in March. McAuliffe and his fellow Democrats favor expansion, while most Republicans oppose it. McAuliffe had not ruled out trying to expand the program by executive action.
Theresa Davis was counting on Medicaid expansion in Virginia. Today she feels helpless.
She says with tears in her eyes, "What am I going to do?"
For now, she's going to continue going to her free health clinic Suffolk on Main St.
"I can't get specialty care there like MRI's or a urologist to help me with passing painful kidney stones," she said.
She passes them by herself in her home, if she's lucky. Sometimes the pain hits her in public and she can't afford the medication to lessen the excruciating pain.
Hospitals are also feeling the pain of not receiving the federal funds they were hoping to get through accepting a larger Medicaid system.
Vice President of the Virginia Healthcare and Hospitals Association Katie Webb says it was a huge disappointment.
"Hospitals have a moral and legal obligation to stabilize and treat everyone who walks through the door, but that's not free cost," Webb said.
According to Webb, hospitals are passing up millions a day without Medicaid expansion. Covering the rising cost of healthcare was made worse by sequestration and cuts to Medicare payments. She says health insurance costs will rise without Medicaid expansion.