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Budget showdown: Virginia Democrats could be in a bind over Medicaid expansion

Gov. Terry McAuliffe and his fellow Democrats are staring down Republicans over the issue of Medicaid expansion.
Photo by Pool/Getty Images

Virginia House Speaker Bill Howell on Monday rebutted the Washington Post, saying a proposed expansion of state Medicaid is merely Obamacare by a different name.

Citing the latest poll showing more Virginians oppose Medicaid expansion than support it, Howell told Watchdog.org: “It looks like a solid majority are standing with us.”

The Falmouth Republican was responding to a Post editorial titled “Va. Republicans’ Lonely Medicaid Stand.”

“I don’t consider our Medicaid stand lonely at all,” Howell responded.

Echoing Democratic Party talking points, the Post opined that the GOP-controlled House of Delegates was passing up “free money” from Washington and leaving 400,000 lower-income residents uncovered by rejecting the Senate’s “Marketplace Virginia” plan.

Similar “public-private” delivery systems have failed to contain costs as the Obama administration maintains the final say on all rules.

“Marketplace Virginia is Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, plain and simple,” Howell said. “It still relies on the promise of billions in borrowed federal money from the same people who promised Americans they could keep their health care plan.

“We cannot bet the fiscal future of the commonwealth on an IOU from Washington.”

As in the nation’s capital, Democrat politicians in Virginia are angling to blame Republicans if a budget is not signed into law by the state’s July 1 constitutional deadline.

Medicaid expansion remains the lone sticking point — and Howell said House Republicans won’t blink.

“Regardless of how anyone feels about Medicaid expansion, we cannot let this single disagreement stop us from passing a state budget.

“The pressure isn’t on us — we have passed a budget. It’s (Gov. Terry McAuliffe) and the Senate who are holding things up.“