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Fredericksburg Center of Virginia’s Medicaid Expansion Battle

By Susan Larson

Gov. Terry McAuliffe will bring his push for Medicaid expansion in Virginia to Fredericksburg today, home turf of House Speaker Bill Howell (R-Stafford), the state legislator leading the fight against it.

On Thursday, House Republicans unsuccessfully pushed for a special session to deal with the issue, which currently is part of Howell’s proposed budget.  A special session would have removed the issue from the budget.

“House Republicans argue that Medicaid shouldn’t be part of the budget deliberations and instead should be decided at a special session,” the Richmond-Times Dispatch reported.  Many Democrats saw it as a legislative move to weaken any chance of compromise.

“Howell is leading the campaign to block Medicaid expansion even though the largest hospital in his Fredericksburg district says it desperately needs the money to continue supporting health care for the city’s poor,” the Washington Post reported.

Mary Washington Healthcare CEO Fred Rankin told the Post “rebuffing expansion would cost his institution $14 million a year available under the Affordable Care Act.”  Loss of the money would hurt the nonprofit health care institution’s ability to serve low income residents, Rankin said.

“For states that expand Medicaid to more low-income uninsured people, Washington has promised to fund 100 percent of costs for new enrollees through 2016, then gradually phase the funding down to a permanent 90 percent rate by 2020,” the Virginia Pilot reported.

“The speaker’s position has been very clear with respect to Medicaid expansion as a whole,” Howell’s spokesman Matt Moran told the Post. “Obamacare has proven to be disastrous.”

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