RICHMOND, Va. (June 6, 2018) – After refusing to do so for years, Republicans in Virginia helped Democrats expand Medicaid, and by extension Obamacare.
The Republican-controlled Senate passed a budget bill including Medicaid expansion last week after four GOP senators joined ranks with the Democrats.
Nineteen Republicans also voted in favor of the bill in the House last February.
According to the New York Times, the turning point in the debate came in April when Sen. Frank Wagner (R-Virginia Beach) announced he had changed his position and would support Medicaid expansion, joining Sen. Emmett W. Hanger Jr. (R-Augusta). Sen. Ben Chafin (R-Lebanon) and Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel (R-Warrenton) also cast yes votes.
Medicaid expansion was a key component of Obamacare. Under the Affordable Care Act, states have the option of expanding Medicaid to people who earn up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, currently $16,643 for an individual. The federal government pledged to pay at least 90% of the cost – although that isn’t guaranteed forever. By expanding Medicaid, the Virginia legislature effectively expanded Obamacare in the state.
As passed, the ACA empowered the federal government to take away current funding to “encourage” states to expand their Medicaid rolls, but the Supreme Court ruled the feds cannot use threats to current funding as a weapon to coerce states. That left the states with the option of opting out of Medicaid expansion. Since Medicaid expansion was a crucial component of the Obamacare scheme, the ability of states to opt out provided a powerful tool to undermine the ACA and take steps toward nullifying it in effect.
Republicans caving and expanding Medicaid in Virginia once again highlights the GOP’s utter failure to end Obamacare. Despite promising for years to repeal the health care act, once in power, the Republicans couldn’t get it done. Now we see the spinelessness filtering down to the state level.
Republican leadership led the way in expanding Medicaid in the Old Dominion State.
As the Washington Post put it, House Speaker M. Kirkland Cox (R-Colonial Heights) decided to rebrand the Virginia GOP as “results-oriented pragmatists.” He came out in favor of expansion as long as the scheme included some work requirements, copays and other “conservative” strings.
So much for principled opposition to the unconstitutional federal takeover of healthcare.
Ironically, Pres. Trump recently claimed, “for the most part we will have gotten rid of a majority of Obamacare.”
Not so much.
Republicans are doing exactly the opposite of what they should be doing. They should be refusing to expand Medicaid, refusing to run Obamacare exchanges and refusing to enforce federal mandates on insurance policies. The federal government cannot run a national healthcare system without cooperation and assistance from the states. By caving in and expanding Medicaid, Virginia Republicans effectively expanded Obamacare and helped further cement the Affordable Care Act into perpetuity.
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