Virginia Republicans Unified Against Medicaid Expansion

Monday, 14 Apr 2014 07:22 AM

By Melissa Clyne

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Opposing Medicaid expansion has unified Virginia’s GOP lawmakers, who have found common ground in their disdain for Obamacare, according to The Washington Post.

Even with pressure from influential donors such as the state chamber of commerce, hospitals, and corporate leaders, Republicans in the Old Dominion State remain staunch in their opposition, a stance the party believes will resonate with voters.

"This has been the No. 1 unifier," Pete Snyder, a Northern Virginia entrepreneur and Republican activist who sought the nomination for lieutenant governor last year, told the Post. "You think just a year ago it [the House] was rife with strife over the tax increases. And now you have a House solidly aligned against the expansion of Obamacare and Medicaid expansion."

Virginia Republicans are taking a page from the Florida GOP’s playbook, a position they hope will carry to November’s midterm elections.

Last month, Republican David Jolly beat Alex Sink, a better-funded, better-known Democrat, in a special congressional election in a Tampa-area House race considered by many pundits as a referendum on Obamacare.

Jolly told Fox News that Sink "suffered in the race from embracing the healthcare law."

Business groups are lobbying for Virginia to accept Medicaid expansion, arguing that so long as Virginians are mandated to pay higher taxes to bankroll it, the state should accept the hundreds of millions in Medicaid money from Washington. But such groups aren't likely to hold grudges against Republicans who oppose both the Affordable Care Act and expansion, a lobbyist for several groups supporting expansion told the Post.

Some Democrats are increasingly anxious that Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe – who has been banking on Republicans caving to business pressure – may not have an end game by July, when the state government could shut down if the issue is not resolved, according to the Post.

Even if Republicans prevail and Medicaid expansion doesn’t happen, insurance companies will win, according to an Associated Press story in The Richmond Times-Dispatch. All the debate over Medicaid expansion has "accelerated" Medicaid reforms, one of which is enrolling many recipients into private, managed care plans.

"It’s the best of times for managed care because both sides are calling for us," said Doug Gray, executive director of the Virginia Association of Health Plans.

Statewide  – including GOP front-runner Ed Gillespie’s campaign against incumbent Sen. Mark Warner, a Democrat  – Republicans are putting their eggs in the anti-Obamacare basket, trumpeting its "disastrous rollout and persistent problems" as the rallying cry in the midterms, according to the Post.

"It’s absolutely very potent," Michael Short, spokesman for the Republican National Committee, said. "We feel absolutely it’s very much a winning issue."

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