McAuliffe’s salvo on Medicaid expansion
Virginia’s vaunted business community has presented its economic “blueprint” to Terry McAuliffe and, naturally, it seeks to have the government (and taxpayers) do more for business:
Among those recommendations, the chamber wants the state to put more resources into early childhood education, and put more emphasis in public schools on preparing students for skills needed in science, technology and health care careers.
Barry DuVal, president and CEO of the state chamber, said he expects legislation to be introduced during the next General Assembly session to address many of the chamber’s proposals.
“We are going to be looking at initiatives to get private industry more involved in education and workforce preparation,” DuVal said. “We are going to be supporting initiatives to better align the education system to the needs of employers.”
So much for the once prized liberal arts education.
Not that one should expect anything less from a chamber of commerce. But as a rejoinder to this wish list, McAuliffe made a request of his own:
“Growing our economy and strengthening our workforce will remain an uphill battle as long as 1 million Virginians remain uninsured,” he said.
“Let me be clear on one point, if Medicaid expansion is not the business community’s No. 1 priority in your communications with the General Assembly … it will not happen,” McAuliffe said.
Recall that candidate McAuliffe said he would shut down state government unless the General Assembly expanded Medicaid:
His campaign tried to walk that back a bit, but McAuliffe’s most recent remarks show that he has absolutely no intention of backing down on the matter and seeks to dragoon the business-types into his service.
He has a fair chance of doing so, largely because McAuliffe linked greater spending on the education programs the Virginia Chamber prizes to Medicaid expansion.
And it is also likely McAuliffe will have Republican support for expansion — in the Senate. Sen. Emmett Hanger, for one, is all for expansion. But this being Emmett, there’s always a twist worth noting:
Earlier in the discussion, Senator Hanger pointed out that he disagrees with the name “Obamacare.”
“That politicizes it too in my mind in terms of calling it the name of a president, so I think we should focus on the need for affordable healthcare,” said Hanger
With worthies like Hanger in office, Mr. McAuliffe’s opportunity to swing a Medicaid deal are real, ripe and waiting to be picked. The House is, supposedly, unwilling to do so under any circumstance. We shall see whether that resolution holds…and whether we are courting the possibility of a replay of the epic 2004 battle between the House and Senate.