Medicaid expansion dies in Virginia GA veto session

Updated: Apr. 5, 2017 at 7:06 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The governor's latest effort to expand Medicaid coverage to 400,000 more Virginians is dead once again.

During Wednesday's veto session, the General Assembly rejected an amendment Governor McAuliffe made to the budget that would have allowed him to expand Medicaid. He proposed it after Congress failed to replace the Affordable Care Act a couple of weeks ago.

McAuliffe spoke out after the vote went down.

"Every tax payer should know that we have forfeited $10.4 billion. $6.6 million of our taxpayer dollars we could bring back to Virginia, at no obligation to the state, to help 400,000 Virginians get healthcare," said McAuliffe at a press conference.

Republicans argued costs to the state would later escalate and point out funding to free medical clinics has been increased to help those without insurance.

"We have really tried to help the folks that really don't fall within the safety net. So for example, we've probably put $32 million to $33 million in the mental health fund. We do a lot with free clinics," said House Majority Leader Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights).

The Senate adopted the governor's amendment to delay Dominion Virginia Power's closing of its coal ash storage ponds until more study is done on possible contamination and other ways to dispose of it.

"People are very concerned about what's in the coal ash that could be seeping into our water supply," said Senator Jennifer McClellan (D – Richmond).

"You look at studying alternatives and what are the true costs to just cap in place. Let's look at those first before we issue a permit and go with cap in place," added Delegate Cox.

So far, and as expected, Republicans in neither the House nor Senate have had enough votes to override any of the governor's record 40 vetoes. Among them were bills on sanctuary cities.

"The sanctuary city bills the Governor has vetoed really don't do anything but send the message that immigr ants aren't welcome and they shouldn't trust authority. I think they have very negative impacts for community policing and our police chief here," said McClellen.

House Republicans were just one vote shy of overriding a veto on a bill to let military members under age 21 receive concealed weapons permits, because two Democrats didn't vote.

The governor's recommendation to cut spending on the 2019 Jamestown and Yorktown Anniversary Commemoration from $10 million to $5 million was rejected under the argument that the event will generate revenue for businesses and the state.

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