Virginia Moves Closer to Expanding Medicaid Despite Trump Administration Opposition
The old political maxim is that elections have consequences, and that appears to be true in Virginia where Democrats came close to capturing the State House and elected Ralph Northam as Governor in a Blue Wave election last November. Republicans, especially in Virginia's Senate, had been staunchly opposed to expansion, but the election results seems to have changed minds.
Last week, State Sen. Frank Wagner of Virginia Beach, who has opposed expansion in the past, became the latest Virginia Republican lawmaker to have a change of heart. With Wagner's support, a majority of representatives in both the House and Senate now support expanding the Medicaid program to cover about 400,000 low-income Virginians.
And, according to the Virginia Pilot, Wagner's support came just days after Trump aide, Brian Blase, urged Republicans to reject expansion. Blase, an assistant to the president for health care policy, made it clear that the Trump administration opposes Medicaid expansion.
Virginia's Medicaid legislation will almost certainly contain some sort of work requirement, but that will have to hammered out in the coming weeks in a special legislative session. Even with that, Virginia's expansion of Medicaid represents a sea-change in the Commonwealth and among Republicans generally. Last month GOP lawmakers in Utah also acted to approve a partial Medicaid expansion.