Fight to expand Medicaid begins round 2 in Va. Gen. Assembly

RICHMOND, Va. – The battle over whether to expand Medicaid to tens of thousands additional low-income Virginians nearly led to a state government shutdown earlier this year, and although the battle is back in the upcoming General Assembly, the showdown may be scaled back.

Republican Del. John O’Bannon says it seems like “déjà vu.” But he does not foresee the same kind of stand off this winter as the General Assembly saw last year.

He says the Republican-led legislature still believes more reforms are needed before Medicaid could be expanded in Virginia. And O’Bannon, a physician by day, would like to know how other states have fared after accepting federal money as part of the Affordable Care Act to expand Medicaid.

Virginia Health Secretary Bill Hazel says the Medicaid reform commission has already done its work, and the lack of Medicaid expansion is costing Virginians’ their health and their tax dollars.

Hazel, who has served under both Democrat Gov. Terry McAuliffe and former Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell, says expanding Medicaid would actually help the state to close a short-term budget gap because of savings and extra tax dollars that the federal government would return to the state.

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