Virginia's Budget Battle Leads to Arguments over Constitutionality
Richmond, VA - It was a bitter political showdown in Richmond between Governor Terry McAuliffe and House Republicans Monday night. And this round went to the Republicans. Virginia lawmakers finalized the state budget, avoiding a government shutdown, and they ultimately got their way, tossing out the Governor's attempts to expand Medicaid.The Governor hoped to expand Virginia's Medicaid coverage under funding for the Affordable Care Act, by using his "gubernatorial veto power." But the General Assembly over-rode that power, calling it "unconstitutional." We got some local reaction - Lynchburg's Doug Pope thinks the latest budget showdown in Richmond is just politics as usual, posturing between parties. And he thinks this time, the Republicans have it wrong, "I think the Republicans need to give a little bit, because they reject everything that the Democrats talk about."
Republican House Speaker William J. Howell threw out the Governor's hopes to expand Medicaid - at least temporarily when he used a procedural move to kill the Governor's veto that would've allowed him to avoid legislative approval. A move that Lynchburg Delegate Scott Garrett fully stands behind.
"The argument is not substantive- that in fact simply insuring Virginians is going to improve their health outcomes," says Garrett.Garrett, a retired Lynchburg surgeon, says insuring more people like Pope isn't the answer to improving the state's broken healthcare system, "There's a lot more that needs to be done to our system than simply insuring them..and that's the battle that the governor has chosen to fight, and frankly he's wrong."Pope feels like it's his kind of people who are getting the short end of the health care thermometer - this go around.
The Governor calls Monday night's political moves "parliamentary gimmicks" leaving 400 thousand Virginians without health care access:
His office released this statement: "I am continually surprised and disappointed by the lengths to which Republicans in the House of Delegates will go to prevent their own constituents from getting access to health care."
The governor is still planning the next step. But this whole thing could end up in court.