The Virginia legislature passed a state budget that did not expand Medicaid under Obamacare Thursday night, just days after the resignation of a Democratic lawmaker that cleared the way for its passage.
The Washington Post reported that the budget did not include Medicaid expansion — and would make it more difficult for the program to be expanded through other means. It would prevent Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe or an independent panel from expanding Medicaid unilaterally under the health reform law.
Medicaid expansion would cover up to 400,000 low-income Virginians.
Republicans now control both chambers of the Virginia legislature after Democratic state Sen. Phillip Puckett resigned this week. Reports had suggested that he stepped down in exchange for a seat on the state tobacco commission and a judgeship for his daughter.
Puckett withdrew his name for consideration for the commission’s job after criticism of the alleged deal, but still resigned — giving Republicans the votes they needed in the Senate to pass a budget without Medicaid expansion. The Senate and House had previously been at a standoff over that key piece of Obamacare, with the former pushing an alternative expansion plan and the latter refusing to consider it.
The budget will now head to McAuliffe’s desk, with a government shutdown looming on July 1 if a new spending plan has not been fully approved.
“When this budget reaches my desk I will evaluate it carefully and take the actions that I deem necessary, but this fight is far from over,” McAuliffe said in a statement. “This is the right thing to do for Virginia, and I will not rest until we get it done.”