Medicaid expansion struggling in Virginia, Arkansas

A protester listens at the rally outside the Social Security Administration offices in Baltimore, Maryland, July 25, 2011.
A protester listens at the rally outside the Social Security Administration offices in Baltimore, Maryland, July 25, 2011.
Photo by Melissa Golden/Redux
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) ran on a platform that included an important health care provision: it’s important, he said, that the commonwealth join most other states in embracing Medicaid expansion.
 
When Democrats swept the statewide offices, and won the a couple of special elections to control the state Senate, it looked like the policy had a real shot. But Republicans still hold the state House – they’re not budging.
Virginia Republicans, having been swept from power at the hands of an electorate alienated by their tilt toward extremism, retain just one bastion in Richmond: the state House of Delegates. From that redoubt, they have resorted to political stunts and budgetary gimmicks as a means of derailing Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s proposal to extend health coverage to hundreds of thousands of Virginians by expanding Medicaid. […]
 
In Richmond, House GOP lawmakers have made it clear they are not interested in compromise, nor do they wish to be bothered much with the facts. Mr. McAuliffe (D), in office barely a month, has tried schmoozing and executive mansion hospitality; he is nothing if not a deal-maker. The Republicans have responded with derision and fighting words. For them, it is enough to demonize Medicaid expansion as a function of Obamacare, and hope the resulting slogans carry the day – no matter what the cost to hundreds of thousands of struggling state residents who have no health insurance.
Even Republican voters in Virginia support Medicaid expansion, which would bring coverage to more than 250,000 low-income residents. But barring a dramatic reversal from conservatives in the state House, those Virginians will go without and some state hospitals may have no choice but to permanently close their doors.
 
In the meantime, Arkansas already has Medicaid expansion, but is poised to throw it away.
 
The policy enjoys the support of Arkansas’ Democratic governor and state Senate, but efforts to pass the bill in the Republican-led state House have already failed – several times – though proponents aren’t giving up.
The House will take up funding for the private option again this week, the third week of the fiscal session that began Feb. 10, but whether the votes can be mustered to pass it after four failed attempts is far from clear.
 
The proposed appropriation of $915 million in federal funding to continue the program failed in House votes on four consecutive days last week, but House Speaker Davy Carter, R-Cabot, told reporters he remained “100 percent” confident it would pass before the end of the session, which cannot be extended beyond 45 days. “I am not wavering from that. It will pass. It’s just a matter of when,” he said.
 
The House and Senate are not meeting Monday but will meet on Tuesday. Carter said the House would vote again on the private option on Tuesday and would keep voting on it until it passes.
Gov. Mike Beebe (D) told reporters this morning the bill needs just a couple of additional votes. Whether (and when) those votes will materialize is anybody’s guess.
 

Arkansas, Medicaid and Virginia

Medicaid expansion struggling in Virginia, Arkansas