Virginia state Senate panel kills Medicaid expansion bill

Virginia state Senate panel kills Medicaid expansion bill
© Greg Nash

Legislation to expand Medicaid in Virginia failed Thursday after a state Senate panel voted on party lines to defeat the measure.

The state’s Education and Health Committee voted down the bill 8-7. The bill can be brought up at another time, but if the committee doesn’t take further action, the bill is dead.

The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Emmett Hanger (R), would have directed the state’s secretary of Health and Human Resources to submit a Medicaid expansion waiver to the federal government.

ADVERTISEMENT

The bill called for the waiver to include work requirements for “able-bodied” adults and income verification, as well as cost-sharing provisions like premiums and copayments — all policies favored by conservatives.

Virginia’s new Democratic governor, Ralph Northam, ran on a promise to expand Medicaid but did not say he supported work requirements. The defeat of this bill doesn’t mean the path to expansion is closed.

Northam can still try to expand Medicaid without getting a waiver approved by the Trump administration. Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s (D) final budget called for the state to accept billions of federal dollars to expand Medicaid coverage under ObamaCare.

Northam also said he wants to seek ways to reform Medicaid and trim costs, which has some bipartisan support in the state.