Virginia Assembly Closes Without Passing Medicaid Expansion—Or a Budget


Unable to reach an agreement on the fate of Medicaid expansion, the Virginia General Assembly closed on schedule on Saturday without passing a budget. If a budget is not adopted by July 1, the state government will shut down.

In response, Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe has called legislators back for a special session that will begin March 24. McAuliffe has made Medicaid expansion a top priority for the commonwealth.

Medicaid expansion is a chief difference between the budgets adopted by the Republican-dominated state house and the Democratic-dominated senate. The house budget offered no expansion, whereas the senate version offered something similar to Medicaid expansion called “Marketplace Virginia” that would use the same funding stream to subsidize private insurance purchases for the eligible.

Nearly 400,000 low-income Virginians stand to gain access to health coverage if the measure is implemented. As part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the federal government offers full funding for Medicaid expansion for the first three years, and subsequently covers 90 percent of costs.

The suggestion of a shutdown in Virginia over the ACA is reminiscent of the federal government shutdown of 2013. A study showed that that shutdown affected the commonwealth more than any other state.

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