CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) – Governor Terry McAuliffe is trying to get lawmakers to approve an expansion he says will put billions of dollars back in the state’s coffers. And he did his best to persuade people in Hampton Roads of that on Tuesday.
In the morning, McAuliffe spoke to the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce in Norfolk, insisting the expansion of Medicaid in the Commonwealth will save Virginia $1.1 billion over the next eight years.
He explained the Affordable Care Act is federal law, and Virginia is paying for it even if it isn’t taking advantage of it. So, during the next eight years, $26 billion will come out of taxpayers’ pockets to go to the program, and if the state doesn’t expand Medicaid, McAuliffe said Virginia will only get back $6 billion of that back through the federal healthcare exchange.
“As Governor, I cannot stand here and say I’m going to leave our money in Washington to be used in other states to lower their healthcare coverage,” McAuliffe said. “It makes absolutely no sense economically.”
On the other hand, McAuliffe told the crowd, expanding will close the Medicaid gap and provide healthcare for 400,000 Virginians, create up to 30,000 new jobs and roll billions into the economy for other things, like education.
“If we don’t accept it , these 400,000 folks are still going to the emergency room, let’s be clear — someone’s going to pay for that. You’re going to pay for it,” he said.
So far, House republicans have refused to negotiate. On House Majority Leader Kirk Cox’s website, he calls for a special session on Medicaid. He also asks Virginians to sing a petition, if you agree Governor McAuliffe should drop his demands for Medicaid expansion in the budget.
If Medicaid stays in the budget and lawmakers do not reach an agreement, it could lead to a government shutdown in July.
While in Hampton Roads on Tuesday, the Governor also stopped by Chesapeake Regional Medical Center for a presentation and roundtable discussion with several officials, including city council members, hospital authority members and key physicians. He also met with staff as he toured the emergency department and nursery.