RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Governor Terry McAuliffe made a new proposal today to try and convince house Republicans to agree to an expansion of the state's Medicaid program.
The GOP quickly turned him down.
On Monday, the governor proposed expanding Medicaid on a trial basis, for only two years, just to see if it would be manageable in Virginia.
Republicans already passed by McAuliffe's budget proposal indefinitely in the House Appropriations Committee and renewed their call to separate the budget from Medicaid and discuss expansion later.
McAuliffe and his allies pulled out all the stops Monday morning. Allies set up shop outside the historic St. Paul's Episcopal Church right near Capitol Square in an attempt to convince lawmakers that expanding Medicaid was the moral thing to do.
The governor was hoping his latest salvo - a proposal to expand Medicaid only on a trial basis for two years paid for completely by the Federal Government - leaves Virginia with nothing to lose and provides 400,000 needy citizens everything to gain.
"To sit with these citizens and look in their eye and have them tell you that they don't have healthcare and they don't know what their future is going to bring them," McAuliffe emotionally argued, "is a disservice to these folks."
But Republicans contend it is not that simple; trusting the federal government to do anything even for two years is risky and should not be tied to the overall budget process.
"They are willing to hold up an entire state budget, $97 billion, and we say it over and over and over again that is your school teachers, that is your public safety personnel," said House Majority Leader Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights)
But McAuliffe is ready to take that gamble and he is willing to put his reputation on the line to prove it.
"If expansion doesn't help our people, then I and I alone will take the responsibility," McAuliffe said. "It is a risk I am willing to take for our families from one end of VA to the other."
The governor's reputation is one thing, but Senate Minority Leader Tommy Norment (R) is worried that regardless of what you promise, if you expand a program like Medicaid for one day, you will probably be forced to expand it forever.
"The prospects of taking Virginians off of a plan after two years, to me, is a little disingenuous," Norment said.
Ultimately, what this means is that we are no closer to a deal, and with each day time ticks closer to the July 1 deadline, putting a squeeze on local governments across Virginia.
Read more on the full impact of the budget impasse on DecisionVirginia.com