Last year, the Virginia General Assembly approved an expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare.
Democrats and liberal Republicans who sided together to push through the last piece of Obamacare in Virginia defended the move as a “conservative” expansion.
But new evidence is proving that is anything but the case.
The political battle over Medicaid Expansion had been raging in the Commonwealth for years, with the Republican majority in the House and Senate defeating Democratic efforts to expand Obamacare.
But all that changed in the 2018 session when a small group of Republican Senators and Delegates, led by House Speaker Kirk Cox, Senator Emmett Hanger, and several of their allies in the General Assembly crossed party lines to vote with every Democrat in both chambers to usher through the expansion.
Critics of the move pointed to the fact that Medicaid is already one of the largest budget items in Virginia, and that the Federal government would be incapable of keeping up its end of the bargain to help fund most of the costs of expansion.
Another key issue for critics were that the work requirements for Medicaid Expansion were improperly addressed, potentially creating a new massive welfare program that wouldn’t be able to pay for itself.
And now, nearly a year after the General Assembly expanded Obamacare, new evidence is emerging to suggest those criticisms were true.
When Republican leadership in Richmond teamed up with Democrats to pass the expansion, the agreement was supposed to include conditions requiring people to hold or seek a job in order to obtain the new taxpayer-subsidized benefits.
Only, that isn’t happening.
The Daily Press even reports that “There’s no word on when those newly eligible low-income Virginians will be required to show proof of work to get the federal health insurance. The state says it could be two more years.”
The issue severely divided the party last year when a small minority of House and Senate Republicans broke ranks with the rest of the party to ram through the expansion.
Those Republicans who opposed Obamacare’s Medicaid Expansion slammed the failed work requirements that so far have yet to play out. Ever since the vote, which conservative critics labeled a betrayal of the Republican Party of Virginia Creed.
At a Senate Finance Committee meeting this week in Richmond, Republican Senator Stephen Newman tore into the delay.
“This just isn’t what we were promised. It just seems like it was delay, delay, delay,” the Republican Senator said.
According to some estimates, it could take up to two more years before the work requirements are fully enforced.
“I cannot tell you how disappointing that is,” Newman said of the timeline. “I just think we’ve got to determine as a legislative body if this is OK.”
To make matters worse, it appears the number of people signing up for Medicaid Expansion is far exceeding the initial expectations that were sold last year.
Dr. Jennifer Lee, director of the state department that manages Medicaid, informed the Senate Finance Committee this week that she “can’t rule that out” when referring to the potential for greater costs racking up over the implementation of workforce programs and education services needed for Medicaid’s proper rollout.
This left Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment (R-James City County) visibly irate.
“You cannot tell me today what even the parameters of the overall costs of the implementation of this program are going to be. That causes me some discomfort,” Norment said.
“Last year, legislators were surprised with a two-year, $460 million bill after state officials’ predictions for savings coming from signing up a few hundred thousand elderly and disabled Virginians with managed care companies fell short,” reports the Virginian-Pilot.