RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- Advocates for expanding Medicaid in Virginia revisited familiar arguments Tuesday at a lengthy public hearing over Gov. Terry McAuliffe's proposed budget.
Business owners, health officials and others told the finance committee of the Democratic controlled Virginia Senate that expanding Medicaid would help the commonwealth's poor, its hospitals, and its overall economy.
Lori Piper of Arlington told the committee that an auto-immune disease caused her to lose a high paying job and health insurance and become homeless. She said she needed Medicaid coverage to help get back on her feet.
"It could happen to anyone," Piper said. "Illness does not discriminate."
McAuliffe proposed a budget last month after the General Assembly adjourned from its regular session without passing a roughly $96 billion, two-year, spending plan.
The governor and Democratic lawmakers want a budget that expands Medicaid eligibility to about 400,000 low-income residents. The GOP-controlled House of Delegates opposes Medicaid expansion.
At a news conference Tuesday morning, House Speaker William J. Howell called the Senate's hearing a dog and pony show and urged Democrats to allow a state budget without Medicaid expansion to pass. Other Republicans riffed on the timing of the Senate's hearing occurring on April Fools' Day.