Encircled by Democrats pushing hard for Medicaid expansion, the Republican-controlled House of Delegates is stiffening its spine in opposition.
“Medicaid is a complicated system with a lot of moving parts — and the dollars keep changing,” cautions state Delegate Steve Landes.
The vice chairman of the state Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission told Watchdog that no one — including Gov. Terry McAuliffe — knows the fiscal impact of expanding the multibillion-dollar indigent-care program in Virginia.
McAuliffe has said the commonwealth is losing $5 million every day it does not add 400,000 poor Virginians to its Medicaid rolls. The newly organized Democratic Senate is ready to sign on.
The Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association is also pressing for expansion, and has the ear of Emmett Hanger, a Republican senator who chairs the MIRC.
But House Republicans, wielding a veto-proof majority, want an external auditbefore proceeding. They say they will not consider any budget amendments from the governor that would expand Medicaid this year.
GOP Delegate John O’Bannon, a Henrico County physician, says taxpayers would be best served if Virginia examined other states’ experiences first. “Better to be a good imitator, rather than a risky innovator,” he said.