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Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
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Legislators: Budget talks deadlocked because of Medicaid expansion debate
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Courtesy Photo: Del. Charles Poindexter (R-Glade Hill), fourth from right, joins House Speaker William Howell, at podium, in urging Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Senate Democrats to pass a budget without Medicaid expansion and to call a special session to deal with that issue separately.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

By K.A. WAGONER - Staff Writer

Local legislators believe the disagreement between the House of Delegates and the Senate over Medicaid expansion will prolong the approval of Virginia's new two-year budget indefinitely.

"The Senate's inclusion of Marketplace Virginia, its alternative to Medicaid expansion, coupled with Governor Terry McAuliffe's insistence that he will not sign any budget that does not include provisions to fully implement ObamaCare, diminish the prospects for an agreement on the budget being reached by the end of this session," said Sen. Bill Stanley (R-Glade Hill), stating that the differences will result in "deadlock."

During last year's session, the Senate, House and governor agreed to keep ObamaCare Expansion out of the budget process, said Del. Charles Poindexter (R-Glade Hill). All three entities also agreed to put the Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission (MIRC) to reform Medicaid into law before considering any expansion of Medicaid.

"Now, the Senate and the governor are demanding a different approach -- expand ObamaCare immediately or there will be no budget agreement," Poindexter said. "This is not the Virginia Way of doing business. We should complete the budget so our local governments, school boards, police and others can prepare their budgets, finalize contracts, and plan for their 2014 tasks."

"The Senate's effort to hold the state budget hostage to ObamaCare Expansion, a failing program in itself, is simply political and irresponsible," Poindexter added.

Stanley agreed, saying McAuliffe is campaigning around the state to drum up support from hospitals and medical service providers for the Senate plan, which "totally ignores an economic calamity that potentially awaits all Virginians should the flawed Medicaid program be expanded."

McAuliffe visited one "nonprofit" Northern Virginia health system, whose CEO's salary tops $1.5 million a year, Stanley said. The health system also netted revenues of $200 million and has nearly $3 billion in assets.

"Not too shabby for a medical provider group demanding that Virginia taxpayers take on a new financial risk called Marketplace Virginia so they can offset the cuts coming their way as a result of ObamaCare," Stanley said. "While the industry touts the potential expansion as good for Virginia, the truth is that due to the ObamaCare law, these hospitals are set next year to see a severe reduction in Medicare (not Medicaid) payments to hospitals from the federal government under the Affordable Healthcare Act."

"That's right, ObamaCare, in order to survive, is cutting over $500 billion to its medical coverage to our senior citizens," Stanley added. "As a consequence, the hospital industry is asking the state to make up the revenue lost from ObamaCare cuts in coverage for our senior citizens through an expansion of the state's financial obligation under the Medicaid program."

"It is neither right nor fair for ObamaCare to significantly cut medical payments to seniors in order to expand a flawed federal program, such as Medicaid," he added. "And I believe that this proposed expansion is just not good for Virginia's long-term financial condition. We can find better solutions to help those Virginians who are in need of such medical services than the one we are considering now."

Adjournment of this year's General Assembly Session is scheduled for Saturday, March 8.

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