Virginia State Capitol (Wikipedia Photo)

Virginia State Capitol (Wikipedia Photo)

After 11:00 PM this evening (June 12), the Virginia Senate passed an amended SB 5003, its version of a 2015-16 budget, on a vote of 21-18. The bill excludes Marketplace VA, a so-called commercial insurance program that would have been the vehicle for expanding Medicaid. In effect, the ”clean budget” bill decouples Medicaid expansion from the budget, breaking the impasse on the prolonged budget negotiations that have threatened to shut down the State Government on July 1.

The Senate immediately sent the bill to the House for its consideration and approval.

The Senate passage of the bill followed a lengthy debate of an amendment proposed by Senator Richard Black (R, 13) that sought to eliminate the following language contained in the House bill that served as the basis of SB5003. That language says:

There is hereby appropriated sums sufficient non-general funds for such cost as may be incurred to implement coverage for newly eligible individuals pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1396 d (y)(1)

[2010] of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Senator Black states in a recent newsletter that:

… the language suggests money can be spent to expand Medicaid under Obamacare.

The Governor could conceivably use this provision to add 400,000 Virginians to the welfare rolls by placing them on government-paid Medicaid.  This would represent the greatest expansion of welfare since President Lyndon Johnson’s disastrous Great Society Program. That program consigned countless millions to lives of government dependency.  We may be poised to repeat that tragic blunder in Virginia.

The Senate defeated Senator Black’s amendment to take out the language quoted above on a vote of 20-19. Republicans then offered two amendments that would require the General Assembly to approve any expenditures of funds by the executive branch. After another lengthy debate, the Senate passed the bill with this amendment on a vote of 21-18.

The House of Delegates convened a general session at 6:00 PM last evening, recessed, and then reconvened at 11:30 PM to consider HB 5002, the Senate’s amended version of the budget bill.  The House passed the bill on a vote of 69-31 at midnight. The bill will now go to  Governor McAuliffe for his signature.

Two recent events helped break the seemingly implacable impasse between the house and Senate over the budget:  1) Democrat Senator Phillip P. Puckett resigned from the Senate on June 9, thereby causing control to shift from the Democrats to the Republicans and increasing Republican influence in the budget negotiations; and 2) a revised estimated revenue shortfall of $1.3 billion, which caused both houses of the General Assembly to make unanticipated budget reductions (mostly by keeping funding of programs at their current levels) to avoid a downgrading of the State’s Triple A bond rating.

According to Craig DiSesa, the Director of Legislation and Accountability for The Middle Resolution, a grassroots coalition with members from across the political spectrum that opposes Medicaid expansion:

States with Republican Governors have been folding under pressure to expand Medicaid, but Virginians have demonstrated to the whole country that when the people of a state are informed and organized they can stop the juggernaut  of special interests and crony capitalism. …

This is a tremendous victory for the citizens of Virginia. Not only have we defeated establishment politicians and big hospital lobbyists, but we have breathed new life into transforming the way we deliver healthcare to the most needy in our state.


Reprinted by permission from the Fairfax Free Citizen.

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