Medicaid expansion fight could shut down Virginia government

Posted at 11:39 PM, Feb 16, 2014
and last updated 2014-02-17 00:57:54-05

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) -- With only a few weeks left in this year's General Assembly session, the House and Senate met Sunday to reveal how they wanted to spend money from taxpayers.

Some of the proposals bring the promise of uplifting new changes.

Lawmakers want to give mental health agencies tens of millions of dollars and state workers could soon see a two percent raise.

Chesterfield County could be a big local winner. The House plan is set to issue $400,000 to improve the county's med-flight service.

While presenting the proposed budgets, though, it became clear that they were both very different from one another.

House Republicans are pushing to cut funding for Planned Parenthood, but Democrats in the Senate plan to fight for the organization.

"I think that's an organization that's worthy of state funding," Donald McEachin said.

The differences in proposed budget came to head within the issue of Medicaid expansion. There has been speculation that the controversy could possibly end up shutting down the Commonwealth's government.

"We are not expanding Medicaid," Republican Senator John Watkins said. "This is a business solution."

Senate Republicans and Democrats came together to come up with a solution. The compromise would involve using available federal funds to create a private marketplace where uninsured Virginians can get coverage.

The House GOP insists that Medicaid expansion is not the answer for Virginia. However, the issue will be have to be addressed in coming weeks. The General Assembly adjourns March 8.

Once the House and Senate pass their budgets, both chambers will come together to try to resolve differences.