State Budget Passes, But Medicaid Expansion Blocked
By Dave Walls
Richmond, VA - Virginia finally has a state budget, with the General Assembly approving it around midnight Friday. The House of Delegates cast the final votes just before midnight, but even though lawmakers passed a budget, the tension still remains. The budget stalemate in Richmond has finally come to and end. For healthcare providers, it's a result that leaves a bitter taste. "We remain firm in our position supporting this expansion, and see this as a fundamental issue facing this country today," said Diane Riley, with Centra Health. The new budget includes language that eliminates any opportunity for Governor McAuliffe to expand Medicaid, without approval of the full General Assembly. Delegate Scott Garrett says while some are disappointed, everyone in Richmond is focused on the issue. "We care very deeply about the health care of all Virginians, how we accomplish that, we disagree with," Garrett said. In a press release, Governor McAuliffe criticized Republicans and the vote, saying Republicans placed their "narrow ideology" ahead of the needs of Virginia's families. However, Garrett and other Republicans say with a July 1st fiscal year deadline approaching, they couldn't hold back on passing a budget any longer. "The Governor [is] holding hostage the entire commonwealth of Virginia, all of our teachers, all of our public safety officials, holding hostage that entire budget process to try and accomplish this singular goal of his. It's just simply unacceptable," Garrett said. Officials at Centra say they are disappointed in the decisions made in Richmond, but it won't affect the way the treat their patients. "We will continue to care for our neighbors the same way we always have, and hope this gap in coverage can be resolved soon," explained Centra's Diane Riley. The adopted budget includes more than $800 million in cuts. Garrett says the cuts are needed, due to a projected $1.5 billion revenue shortfall.
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