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Va. governor’s race debate takes aim at health care fight

MCLEAN, VA - SEPTEMBER 19: Republican candidate Ed Gillespie, left, and Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, Democrat, greet each other before the start of the Gubernatorial debate on September, 19, 2017 in McLean, VA. (Pool Photo by Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)

WASHINGTON — The latest efforts in Congress to replace the Affordable Care Act has gotten attention across the river in the Virginia governor’s race.

Senate Republicans could vote next week on the Graham-Cassidy bill that would replace the Obama-era law with block grants to states with the intention that states shape their own health care systems.

While Democrats are fighting the proposal, even Republican gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie, who wants Obamacare replaced, has been unwilling, so far, to endorse the block grant proposal.

See what the candidates had to say about health care at Tuesday night’s debate in a video from WTOP affiliate, NBC Washington.

“I do think Congress should replace it, but, in that process, Virginia should not be punished for not being an expansion state and for being fiscally responsible with our Medicaid dollars,” Gillespie told reporters following Tuesday night’s debate against the Democratic candidate, Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam.

Virginia’s Republican-dominated General Assembly refused to increase “Obamacare” enrollment by expanding the state’s Medicaid rolls by 400,000. There’s concern any block grants could be based on the number of residents signed up for the current health care law.

“What I worry about is if they do a block grant, which they say, ‘Here, Virginia, this is what you’ve been using for Medicaid expenses, this is what we’re going to give you’ — we’re going to be very vulnerable,” Northam said.

Bipartisan skepticism about the most recent repeal and replace effort in Congress is not limited to the campaign trail. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said the plan would not be right for his state. And Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe called it a tax cut for the rich.


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