Reactions to McAuliffe's proposed $109 billion budget

FILE - In this July 13, 2015 file photo, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffespeaks during a news conference at the Capitol in Richmond. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)
FILE - In this July 13, 2015 file photo, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffespeaks during a news conference at the Capitol in Richmond. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File) (Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved)

RICHMOND (WSLS 10) - The proposal to expand Medicaid is what sparked a debate last year in the legislature that almost shut down Virginia's government.

This year, Mcauliffe is including a funding mechanism and tax cuts that he hopes will appeal to Republicans that control the House and Senate, but Republican delegates in our area say, not so fast.

"He thinks if he puts a few things in there that look like sweeteners to people that suddenly there's going to be a change. The reality is that the voters simply don't want Obamacare expanded in Virginia," said Republican Delegate Greg Habeeb.

Habeeb says he took one look at the Governor's announcement and saw more of the same argument that almost caused Virginia's government to shut down in 2014.

This year, Mcauliffe is asking state hospitals to pay a 3% tax.

That would offset Virginia's contribution to Medicaid expansion, allowing the state to match federal money for the program.

He says it would generate around $157,000,000 in extra money that could be used however the state sees fit, but Habeeb doesn't buy it.

"What he's trying to do here is throw everything in the budget that he thinks people want, and then back it up with his phony Medicaid money. He knows even if we did Medicaid expansion the money he's projecting is made up," said Habeeb.

But Democratic State Senator John Edwards says he sees the Governor's proposal as a fair compromise.

He also thinks Virginia should do what it can to secure federal funds for healthcare.

"2.4 billion dollars that, we've already sent the money to Washington, let's bring it back and use it in Virginia. This would ripple through the economy and create 30,000 new jobs," said Edwards.

Virginia's hospitals agree.

In a statement, the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association said "the concept is flexible enough that it could be used within the existing medicaid program to increase reimbursements, or to cover the state costs associated with helping more uninsured Virginians obtain health care coverage. "

Right now, Edwards says there are around 400,000 Virginians that fall in that uninsured category.

"If you live under the federal poverty level, you don't get the subsidy, and you don't qualify for medicaid because we're not expanding Medicaid, so you're just out of luck, and that's not right," said Edwards.

Habeeb though, says the discussion is all a moot point.

With a Republican controlled House and Senate, he says the proposal will never pass.

"The reality is the Governor knows this is not happening, the Governor knows it would be bad for Virginia, the problem is he built his entire legacy on Medicaid expansion, so now he has to continue to go all in," said Habeeb.

The proposal will be reviewed and revised by committees in the House and Senate in February, then sent to the Governor for approval.

Habeeb says it is almost certain the revised version will not include any expansion of Medicaid, and it will be up to the Governor whether or not to veto.