The Only Way Virginia Dems Are Going to Win on Medicaid Expansion is By Winning Elections


    Look, expanding Medicaid makes so much sense (from economic, business and moral points of view), and NOT expanding Medicaid makes so little (actually zero) sense, that Democrats should try everything they can to persuade Virginia House Republicans to see the light. There’s just one problem with this strategy: it won’t work.

    Why not? Very simple. As Del. Bob Brink and others explained yesterday at a Medicaid forum in Arlington, Virginia Republican General Assembly members keep voting against their own constituents’ self interest because:

    1) Gerrymandering has resulted in “red”-district delegates only having to worry about ONE thing politically – “a primary challenge from a Tea Party candidate.” And, as Brink added, “the Tea Party is virulently, virulently opposed to the Affordable Care Act and to the president who enacted it.”

    2) Just to hammer that previous point home, Brink noted that Virginia Republicans in 2013 saw two Republican delegates (in Loudoun County and Winchester) defeated by Tea Party challengers. In Brink’s view, “every Republican member down there has a picture of those two defeated delegates on their wall, and that guides a large part of why we are where we are on this.”

    Just a few minutes ago in the Virginia House of Delegates, we saw the results of that calculus. On the one hand, we had Democrats presenting a logical, rational case why expanding Medicaid makes an enormous amount of sense. Democrats systematically demolished every one of the Republicans’ supposed “arguments” against Medicaid expansion, not that Republicans were listening or cared. Because, sad to say, this is all about the most narrow of political calculations for House Republicans: vote FOR anything that can possibly be labeled “Obamacare” expansion and face a likely Tea Party challenge; or vote AGAINST anything of the sort, thus selling out their constituents, but  at least not facing a dreaded Tea Party challenge. And no, appeals to the better angels of their nature (if they have them), to emotion, to morality, to logic, to reason, to economics, whatever won’t work, because Republican delegates’ narrow, political self interest trumps ALL of that by far.

    So what do we do about this situation? There’s only one thing, frankly: we are extremely unlikely to win the battle on Medicaid expansion this year, or next year, so it’s going to come down to the 2015 General Assembly elections. We either take back the House of Delegates – or come close and put the fear of electoral defeat into they hearts of the remaining Republicans in Obama/Kaine districts – and maintain control of the State Senate, or we can forget about it. Other than that, we should of course continue to make it clear that Democrats have responded to all legitimate, semi-legitimate, or even in some cases illegitimate “concerns” by Virginia Republicans about Medicaid expansion. The goal of this should be to make crystal clear to Virginia voters – and to the media, although they are apparently set on their “both sides” false equivalence idiocy, so good luck! – that Democrats are the reasonable ones in this, while Republicans are being completely unreasonable, irrational, victims of Obama Derangement Syndrome, etc. Then, it’s a matter of Democrats recruiting great candidates for 2015, funding them to the hilt (which is where T-Mac’s PAC comes in), and winning back as many of the 18 Obama/Kaine House of Delegates districts currently held by Republicans as possible.

    Meanwhile, as was made crystal clear on the floor of the House of Delegates this morning, Virginia Republicans are completely beyond reason on this issue. That point was driven home to me as I listened to House Majority Leader Kirkland Cox repeat his distortions and lies, followed by the even nuttier (if that’s possible) and more extreme Del. Scott “Jerry Falwell Lite” Garrett talk actually quote Sarah Freakin’ Palin (“how’s that hopey changey working out for ya?”). Yes, on one level these people are a complete joke. But on another level, they are deadly serious – emphasis on the word “deadly,” as Republicans’ refusal to extend healthcare coverage to hundreds of thousands of Virginians will undoubtedly lead to (actually, has already led to) a great deal of sickness and even death. The question is, how do they look themselves in the mirror while doing this to the people they’re supposed to be representing? It’s amazing.

    • From the DPVA:

      Republicans Have No Excuses Left

      RICHMOND — Today, after Governor McAuliffe proposed his biennial budget that used $225 million of savings from accepting federal funds to close the coverage gap to provide a 2% pay increase for state employees, investments in the Virginia Retirement System, and Line of Duty funding, House Republicans can’t even get their ducks in a row to pass a joint resolution to move forward with the budget. Perhaps it’s because they’ve used up all of their excuses to refuse health insurance to up to 400,000 Virginians.

      “Every day House Republicans stall on closing the coverage gap we lose $5 million in Virginia tax-payer money,” said DPVA spokesperson Ashley Bauman. “Now that legislators are back in Richmond, one would think that they would try to pass a budget as soon as possible, but House Republicans continue to stall. Governor McAuliffe laid out a responsible path forward on the budget, and it’s clear that House Republicans have no excuses left as to why they continue to waste $5 million per day in taxpayer funds. It’s time for them to work across the aisle not only to pass a budget, that includes Governor McAuliffe’s two year pilot program to cover up to 400,000 Virginians.”

    • Del. Mark Keam:

    • Del. Surovell: “Letter from Feds stating that Virginia can pull out of Medicaid expansion if Congress pulls the rug out and cuts our reimbursement percentage. Next argument?”

    • Del. Keam: “Today, Governor Terry McAuliffe wrote this letter to each member of the Virginia General Assembly urging the legislature to provide healthcare coverage to uninsured Virginians by accepting federal funds for two years.”

    • pvogel

      that   Gov Mccauliffe     cant  do what   POTUS can do  and    extend  medicare  by   executive order… since it  dosnt  involve  spending   any    tax money.  Sometimes  I get  a  view of the  future,  and it aint pretty.

    • Paba

      2nd (D pickup, Futrell)








      93rd (D pickup)


      There’s not much use in wondering what could have happened to get these over the hump in 2013. My thinking is that it was a combination of a lack of attention in the furor to sweep the statewide races combined with a lot of other very localized factors, ranging from spending advantages by the GOP (Comstock), inexperienced candidates lacking the resources they needed (Marshall, Yancey), and, whether you like it or think it makes sense or not, well-liked incumbents who’ve been able to differentiate themselves on local issues (Rust, Ramadan, Yost, who are basically the New Virginia equivalent of the Blue Dog Dems who were able to survive this way in the South til the last decade). An earlier start for some of these campaigns could have helped better define the challenger, but whether or not anyone in an off year election pays attention beyond the top of the ballot statewide is a serious question. Most of these results just reflect sheer demographics and turnout.

      So what does this mean for next year? Probably little. Turnout is going to be even lower. The electorate will be redder. We know all of this.

      We do know that the demos of these districts are close enough that they should have similar races in 2015, and the best hope is that without the noise at the top (ie: the Gubernatorial election), the governor can marshal enough $$$ to run ads early and often in the DC market. It’s the best investment in an election where turning a redder district will be even tougher. There are at least 3 in NoVA that should turn with enough attention.  

    • Governor Terry McAuliffe released the following statement today following a vote by the House Appropriations Committee to “pass by indefinitely” his introduced budget, which closes the health care coverage gap and invests in Virginia state employees, teachers, sheriffs, first responders and a host of other core priorities:

      “I am disappointed that House Republicans voted today to continue Washington-style gridlock instead of accepting a budget that includes a responsible proposal to bring billions of federal dollars back to Virginia to close the health care coverage gap and invest in core priorities like education and mental health.

      “The budget I proposed offers a real opportunity for compromise by allowing a two-year pilot for Medicaid expansion and using the $225 million in savings we will incur over the biennium to support a 2% pay raise for state employees and teachers, provide Line of Duty funding for first responders and their families, and invest in the Virginia Retirement System.  Unfortunately, these priorities took a backseat to political ideology today, as did the 400,000 Virginians who would benefit from expanded health care. As this special session moves forward, I remain eager to work with Republicans and Democrats to end this standoff by passing a budget that funds our priorities and closes the health care coverage gap.”

    • From DPVA:

      RICHMOND — Moments ago House Republicans voted down Governor McAuliffe’s newly proposed budget in committee and it became more evident than ever that they are content shutting down the government rather than closing the coverage gap for 400,000 working Virginians.

      “Washington-style gridlock has no place in Virginia,” said DPVA Spokesperson Ashley Bauman. “The House Republicans have only been back in Richmond for a little over ten hours but they’ve made one thing clear — they would rather dig in their heels and not pass a budget than pass a budget that includes insuring 400,000 working Virginians by closing the coverage gap.

      “It’s time House Republicans step back from their Tea Party talking points and focus on the real issues at hand — Virginia is leaving $5 million a day of our own money on the table while Virginians remain uninsured. Their refusal to put political brinkmanship aside and focus on real opportunities available under Governor McAuliffe’s new budget is not only irresponsible, it’s reckless. It’s time for House Republicans to reach across the aisle to find a budget compromise that moves the Commonwealth forward by closing the coverage gap.”

    • ir003436

      With Dwight Jones as DPVA chair, we’ll sweep to victory.