McAuliffe Debuts a Mild Plan for Health Care Expansion

With the Republican-dominated Virginia legislature against any major Medicaid expansion, Governor Terry McAuliffe (D) announced a limited plan to use his executive powers and federal funding, reports The Richmond Times-Dispatch. 

McAuliffe campaigned on the promise of Medicaid expansion but could not get the General Assembly on board. As a result, the governor debuted his 10 point plan for expansion on Monday.

The new plan would provide coverage to 20,000 new Virginians, rather than the almost 40,000 that would have been covered if Medicaid had been expanded under the Affordable Care Act. The new plan provides more coverage to mental health patients and hopes to optimize participation in existing state and federal benefits that currently cover Medicaid-enrolled children, veterans and expectant mothers.

No General Assembly action is required, and Virginia will use the $40 million in carry over funds from the final six months of the 2015 fiscal year which will end July 1st. If the program is to go forward, it would need almost $80 million a year, which is subject to action of the General Assembly.

State contributions made each year would be matched by federal dollars that are equal to or greater than what the state is spending.

In the coming week, the General Assembly will meet in a special session to discuss the issue of Medicaid expansion. Earlier this summer, the House Republicans blocked McAuliffe from using his executive powers to authorize the acceptance of Medicaid expansion funds.

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