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    Following special session, a bleak future for Medicaid expansion

    The political tussle over expanding Medicaid in Virginia through the Affordable Care Act is over, but a plan to provide health care to hundreds of thousands of uninsured adults still needs to be found, Republican state Del. Tag Greason told the Times-Mirror Tuesday.

    Greason could not say what the solution is, but he was firm in his view that it should not include federal funds linked to Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.

    “The solution needs to a permanent fix, not tying ourselves with the entanglements of Obamacare” the Ashburn delegate said.

    Greason's comments came five days after the General Assembly reconvened in Richmond for a two-day special session to patch up the state budget and debate Medicaid expansion – a debate that seemingly ended before it began.

    An official vote to expand Medicaid was never taken. Legislation submitted by local state Del. Tom Rust (R-86th) was never considered in earnest. Rust is the only Republican out of 68 in the 100-member House of Delegates who supports expansion.

    Lawmakers in the commonwealth have wrangled over Medicaid for more than two sessions now, with leading Republicans standing steadfast in their opposition to anything related to President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act.

    In Virginia, Medicaid expansion has been estimated to cover as many as 400,000 uninsured adults, create as many as 30,000 jobs and inject more than $2 billion annually to the state. The federal government has agreed to cover 100 percent of expansion costs until 2017, 95 percent from then until 2020 and 90 percent thereafter.

    Greason and his conservative colleagues – with the exception of Rust – don't believe Washington can make good on its funding promise.

    “What happens then,” Greason said, adding that either the state will be on the hook for ballooning health care costs or the newly-insured will lose coverage.

    Fixes to a vast problem like health care take time, Greason said.

    “It took us 26 years to solve transportation,” he said.

    Democratic state Sen. Jennifer Wexton blasted the GOP-led General Assembly for failing to act in an email this week.

    “What do Arizona, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, North Dakota, Indiana and Utah have in common?” Wexton, of Leesburg, wrote. “All have Republican governors and Republican legislatures. And yet, all have expanded Medicaid or are in the process of expansion.”

    Wexton painted a bleak picture of partisanship coming out the capitol.

    “We just concluded a Special Session – called by the Republican leadership specifically to address Medicaid expansion – where nothing was accomplished on health care,” she said. “Despite promises for a 'full and fair debate' on Medicaid expansion, Republican leadership offered no plan … One lone Republican delegate brought a new plan to Richmond; his bill did not even receive a floor vote. I would like to say that I am shocked, but this is the new status quo.”

    Hospital officials with the Northern Virginia Inova system -- the largest not-for-profit heath care provider in the D.C. Metro area and one of the largest Medicaid providers in Virginia – say rejecting expansion will cost the system more than $95 million in 2015 alone.

    Contact the writer at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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    Loudoun Business Journal - Summer 2014

    Loudoun Business Journal - Spring 2014