Budget standoff ends with approval of Medicaid expansion

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In early June, Gov. Ralph Northam signed a pair of budget bills that will lead to Medicaid coverage being extended to more Virginians.

Medicaid expansion was included in a two-year state budget passed by the Virginia Senate during a contentious special session. The General Assembly ended its regular session in March without passing a budget. The House of Delegates’ version of the budget included Medicaid expansion while the Senate version did not.

In late May, four Republican senators — Frank Wagner of Virginia Beach, Ben Chafin of Russell County, Jill Vogel of Fauquier County and Senate Finance Co-Chairman Emmett Hanger of Augusta County — joined the Senate’s 19 Democrats in adopting the budget bills.

Majority Leader Tommy Norment of James City County and other Republicans denounced the move.

Some political analysts attributed the General Assembly’s change of heart about Medicaid expansion to last fall’s legislative elections. A Democratic wave resulted in the election of 15 new delegates leaving Republicans with a narrow 51-49 majority in the House.

Virginia will become one of 33 states and the District of Columbia that have approved Medicaid expansion.

Virginia Business looked at the possible repercussions from the 2017 legislative elections in its January issue and examined health-care access problems in Southern and Southwest Virginia in the May issue.

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