Northam headshot

Gov. Ralph Northam (D)

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam signed a new state budget into law Thursday that will expand Medicaid to as many as 400,000 low-income adults, scoring a signature legislative win just months into office.

Speaking to a crowd of supporters from the steps of the state Capitol, Northam said the bipartisan compromise that led to Medicaid expansion’s passage shows that Republicans and Democrats at the state level aren’t politically polarized as they are nationally.

“Chaos and partisan warfare may dominate Washington, but here in Richmond we still work together to do the right thing for our people, not our political party,” said Northam.

The Democratic governor won election last year on promises to expand Medicaid and reach across the aisle.

Expanding Medicaid was a key provision of then-President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled was optional for states. Virginia will become the 33rd state to expand, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

State Republicans rejected efforts to expand Medicaid in Virginia for years, saying the program’s costs were unsustainable. But that near unanimous opposition crumbled this year, and several Republicans joined with Democrats to pass a budget last week that included expanding the health care program for the poor.

GOP Sen. Emmett Hanger credited Northam’s low-key approach to getting Republican support this year.

“Gov. Northam is someone that I don’t agree with quite frequently, but I trust him,” Hanger said.

President Donald Trump has vigorously sought to negate his predecessor’s health care law. And White House officials, including budget director Mick Mulvaney, have urged Virginia lawmakers this year not to expand Medicaid.

But it was Trump’s embrace of work requirements for low-income people on Medicaid that helped prompt some Virginia GOP lawmakers to support expansion. And a GOP-led Congress’ inability to repeal Obama’s health care law last year also helped convince Virginia Republicans that the time was right to expand Medicaid.

The Northam administration expects to begin enrolling new Medicaid recipients at the start of next year. Virginia officials previously estimated that only about 300,000 people out of 400,000 eligible would actually sign up for the coverage. The cutoff is 138 percent of the poverty level, which is about $30,000 a year for an adult in a three-member household.

The newly passed state budget also includes raises for state workers and teachers.

(10) comments

More Cowbell

Just another way for more fraud in our federal/state govt system programs. Hope at least they're made to take a drug test.

amerigirl

Yes! Every man woman and child that is poor should be required to be tested before being able to get health insurance! Really?

Loudoun4Trump

Another GOP loss....free everything for all....what a government, we need more trump types and less establishment types....with the Yuge successes Trump keeps producing maybe the people will finally wake up.

amerigirl

So we were paying Medicaid expansion in other states but not in our own, and you want to continue doing that? Homework time, it;'s up to the state to set up the premium cost, fees and copay's. Those who get it for free, and there are very few, are usually disabled children, depending on the family income. But if you can't find it in your heart to help them out, then keep on keeping on with your opinions. The fact that 33 states (including D.C.) had expanded Medicaid before we did, many of them red states, should show you something.

More Cowbell

Just a way for more fraud. State/Federal govt will lose another $100 million in a few years(just in VA). And of course the hard working middle class will foot the bill. If only the govt had a way to see how many employees are paid under the table? I'd wager 1/3(100K) won't report true wages.

amerigirl

What a lookout on life, those in need are 'paid under the table' cheaters, and liars that 'won't report incomes'.I guess anyone who has fallen on hard times suddenly becomes a criminal. Where are you getting you're info about fraud and fiscal loss. That is not even close to the reports I have seen. In fact, when passing the bill the state planned on making quite a savings, check the budget. The General fund budget savings alone exceed $400 million.

william g gruff

A complete piece of garbage legislation. Who is going to pay when the entire country is a welfare state?

amerigirl

Pay for what? It's mostly a shift in money that the tax payers will benefit from and about 400,000 fellow Virginians will get health coverage.

Ragnar

Typical. Tax hard-working citizens to death to pay for even more social programs so the poor and unemployed have even less incentive to better their own lives. Same tired old song.

amerigirl

Tell me how this will raise your taxes! I can tell you how it will actually save money, and more importantly, lives.

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