Gov. Bob McDonnell presented his final budget proposal for the commonwealth on Monday and buried in it was an apparent shot across the bow regarding Medicaid expansion:
Virginia must achieve structural reforms that bend the cost curve before we decide to expand Medicaid. Therefore, my budget continues the operation of the MIRC and also includes language that sunsets any potential Medicaid expansion on June 30, 2016, in order to allow a full evaluation of Medicaid reform efforts and whether Virginia can afford expansion.
As you may recall, Terry McAuliffe has made Medicaid expansion a priority, and has sought to dragoon Virginia’s business community into supporting this effort. The Republican House of Delegates is, ostensibly, against any such expansion. But McDonnell’s budget proposal looks like both a hedge against faint hearts in the GOP caucus and a bargaining chip — if Gov. McAuliffe really must have expanded Medicaid, then it will be for a limited time only.
The idea that Medicaid can be expanded for a brief time and then be shrunk is highly debatable. But it’s McDonnell’s opening, and closing, bid.
The full text of McDonnell’s remarks can be read below: