RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Gov. Bob McDonnell warned state legislative negotiators on Wednesday not to expand Medicaid in Virginia without major federal and state cost reductions first.
McDonnell wrote to the legislature's top budget chiefs — Senate Finance Committee chairman Walter A. Stosch and House Appropriations Committee chairman Lacey E. Putney — as they and 10 other negotiators grappled with Medicaid expansion, the largest remaining obstacle to reaching a budget compromise in time for Saturday's final adjournment.
At issue is whether to authorize the McDonnell administration to pursue the expansion of Medicaid to about 400,000 more uninsured Virginians sooner as the Senate wishes, or waiting until 2014 to decide when — if ever — to expand Medicaid, as the House prefers.
"Please understand that I cannot and will not support consideration of an expansion of Medicaid in Virginia until major reforms are authorized and completed, and until we receive guarantees that the federal government's promises to the states can be kept without increasing the immoral national debt," McDonnell wrote. "The country is broke, and I will not support policies that make it worse."
The governor's letter came a day after his administration received conditional approval from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for several reforms McDonnell had sought, including more Medicaid administrative simplicity, more efficient service delivery and payment and benefits more comparable to commercial plans.
The federal agreements, however, were conditional, accompanied by several areas where agency director Cindy Mann said further negotiation and approval are required.