Steve Albertson’s post at The Bull Elephant about the terrible language currently in the proposed budget has gotten at least one Senator interested in fixing that mess. I spoke with Senator Dick Black this afternoon and he intends to introduce a floor amendment to the budget that would require any expansion of Obamacare in Virginia get the positive approval of both houses of the Virginia legislature, instead of the obtuse and confusing delegation of that decision to a commission that may or may not be required to approve it.
This makes so much sense it hardly seems possible.
Since only the Senate can amend the budget at this point, the only question will be whether Senators Hanger, Stosch and Watkins can get on board. If they don’t want to be accountable to their constituents, they’ll vote against this amendment, allowing Governor McAuliffe to try to expand Medicaid by executive fiat and encouraging the court challenges that will certainly ensue. If they realize that it is the responsibility of the legislature to set government policy in Virginia and actually vote for whether this is to happen or not, they might buy themselves a pass in the next primary election season when these three are likely to encounter some difficulty when trying to get re-elected.
If you’re in the district of one of these Senators, it might be a good idea to have chat with them and share your thoughts.
UPDATE: From Senator Black’s facebook page:
On Thursday, June 12th, the Senate will meet to consider the budget. Despite reports that the Republican majority in the Senate means the end of Medicaid expansion, the danger is alive and well.
The budget bill passed by the House contained language that could give the Governor an opening to expand Medicaid. Here is that language: “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) of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.” That language suggests that 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.
Senator Black intends to introduce a floor amendment that would prohibit expanding Medicaid without a full vote of the General Assembly. “This is a matter of grave importance to all Virginians,” said Black. “Voters deserve to know whether their elected representatives are for or against expanding Medicaid.”
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