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Virginia Senate Finance Committee Passes Bipartisan Budget to Close Health Care Coverage Gap

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From the Virginia Senate Democratic Caucus. Now, can the Republican-controlled House of Delegates PLEASE do its job for a change?!?


New budget again contains compromise “private option” Marketplace Virginia

RICHMOND — This morning, the Senate Finance Committee voted on a bipartisan basis to report a new budget that would use the Senate’s private option approach — Marketplace Virginia — to close the health care coverage gap, enabling up to 400,000 uninsured Virginians to access health care. The final vote was 11 – 3, with three Republicans joining all eight Democrats in supporting the budget.

The bill retains several of Gov. McAuliffe’s critical amendments, including a 2% pay increase for public employees, allowing up to $17 million in subsidies to local governments for Line of Duty Act-covered employees, and providing up to $7.1 million for additional land conservation efforts.

Said Senate Majority Leader Sen. Dick Saslaw (D – Fairfax), “Marketplace Virginia will enable hundreds of thousands of uninsured Virginians to access care, create tens of thousands of jobs, return billions of federal tax dollars to the Virginians who paid them, and keep endangered hospitals open for business.”

Said Sen. Janet Howell (D – Reston), “Today, Senate Finance compromised yet again. We could have voted to expand Medicaid, but instead we voted for a bipartisan alternative that encourages personal responsibility and relies on the private sector. House Republicans need to come to the table and offer something in return. That’s how governing works.”

Said Sen. Mamie Locke (D – Hampton), “House Republicans need to understand that the Senate will not negotiate with itself. During regular session, the Senate put forward a good-faith, bipartisan proposal that addressed House Republicans’ concerns with Medicaid expansion. House Republicans shot down that proposal, and they’ve failed to offer any alternative. Now that proposal will be before them again, and it’s once again up to them to come to the table and work with us to move Virginia forward. If they do that, I’m confident that we can reach an agreement. If they don’t, nothing will change.”

Said Sen. Louise Lucas (D – Portsmouth), “As legislators, we are elected to solve Virginia’s problems. The coverage gap is a great and growing problem, and it hurts businesses and families across the Commonwealth — whether or not they pay for health insurance right now. Today, Senate Finance once again offered a compromise solution to that problem — and once again, House Republicans have to decide which matters more: helping those Virginians, or hiding behind narrow, ideological objections in order to justify doing nothing.”

  • From DPVA:

    Today, after the Senate Finance Committee presented their budget, which brings back $2 billion per year in federal funds to provide healthcare for up to 400,000 Virginians and creates 33,000 jobs, provides funding for first responders, and invests in a 2% pay raise for state employees, House Republicans admitted that they will not come to the table to even consider a budget that closes the coverage gap.

    In response to the Senate Finance Committee’s action today, House Republicans stated, “this is the fourth iteration of Medicaid expansion proposed since the General Assembly began in January” and then added, “The Senate’s most recent proposal is an unworkable plan” signaling their refusal to even talk about the prospect of closing the coverage gap. And for the second time in less than two weeks, threw out another budget without even giving it the time of day.

    The bipartisan coalition in the Senate has offered four proposals to close the coverage gap in an effort to cater to outrageous demands from House Republicans and encourage them to come to the negotiating table. However, instead of offering their own proposal or even taking the time to consider any of the four options presented to them, House Republicans’ only response is “no.”

    “Leaders of both parties in the Senate have shown their willingness time and time again to negotiate on how to close the coverage gap and enable 400,000 Virginians access to quality health insurance,” said DPVA spokesperson Ashley Bauman. “However House Republicans have thrown out every offer without even considering the economic and moral reasons for supporting them.

    “It’s time for House Republicans to stop putting their Tea Party ideology ahead of the 400,000 Virginians depending on them to do what is best for our communities and our economy.”