Finally, We Pass Medicaid Expansion! Virginia Extends Healthcare to 400,000 Virginians! Legislation Brings Hundreds of Millions of Dollars to Virginia Budget And Billions of Dollars to Virginia Economy. A Clear Victory for Empathy and Fiscal Sanity and all because you gave us 15 new Democrats last fall...
On Memorial Day, we remember those who gave their lives to protect our freedom. Too easily we forget the real meaning of this day. Memorial Day is not just the start of summer. It is a time to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice of their lives for our country. Time and time again, our nation has called on our citizens to serve. And they have answered that call, with bravery and selfless devotion to the ideals of our republic. We all owe an infinite debt of gratitude to these courageous heroes who died so that we may live free.
Delegate Roem and I will also be speaking at an event organized by the Kingstowne Communion, a new United Methodist church in Alexandria. Please join us Tuesday night at Fiona's Irish Pub (5810 Kingstowne Center, Alexandria) at 7pm for a provocative discussion on faith, gender, identity, and the way in which religious institutions deal with these issues. I don't get a chance to talk about my personal theology very much, and I look forward to sharing my religious outlook and hearing yours.
Last week, the House of Delegates again passed a budget that included Medicaid Expansion. I was proud to cast my vote one more time for bringing health care to 400,000 Virginians, returning $400 million in Virginians' federal tax dollars to Virginia, and pumping almost $2 billion into Virginia's economy. I'm hopeful that this budget -- combined with the necessary action by the Virginia Senate -- will finally bring Medicaid Expansion to Virginia. We still have more work to do to get it through the Senate, but with some Republican Senators starting to waver, I remain optimistic. I expect to be called back to Richmond sometime in May after the Senate passes its version of the budget, although as of now, we don't know when that will be.
Tomorrow (Tuesday the 17th) at 4 pm, the Virginia General Assembly will meet again in special session to vote on a budget that, we hope, will include Medicaid Expansion. And while we have reason to hope that it will eventually occur, it's certainly not a done deal. We cannot be complacent. We have to keep the pressure on, until 400,000 Virginians get health care and $421 million comes into our budget in what must be the greatest win/win policy of modern times.
Since we adjourned our session this year without passing a budget, Governor Northam has called us back for a special session to begin Wednesday. The main source of contention between the House and Senate has been Medicaid Expansion, which I remain fully committed to. The House passed a budget, which I voted for, back in February that expanded Medicaid using the nearly half a billion federal dollars that we've been inexplicably refusing for the past four years. But the Senate went the other way and stripped Medicaid Expansion out of their budget.
Tomorrow (Saturday, March 24), people all over the country will be marching to demand Congress finally pass meaningful reforms to prevent gun violence. The March for Our Lives, led by students from Parkland, Florida; from Northern Virginia; and from across the nation; will be all along Pennsylvania Avenue at noon tomorrow, with the main stage at 3rd Street Northwest.
Saturday afternoon, at precisely 1:54 p m,the Virginia General Assembly adjourned sine die (without a day set for resumption). And this year, we did it without agreement on the budget! Democrats refused to budge on Medicaid Expansion. We insist on doing it this year. We even persuaded our House Republican colleagues that it was better to spend $421 million on health care for Virginians than to give away that Virginia taxpayer money to the federal government. But, as of this writing, Senate Republicans remain firm against "ObamaCare." Therefore, no budget. As the budget cycle begins July 1, 2018, Governor Ralph Northam has called us into special session April 11, 2018 to reach agreement.
We have a big final week of session coming up. The two biggest issues to be resolved are whether we will have Medicaid Expansion and/or dedicated revenue for Metro.
Your hard work is paying off, but the fight isn’t over yet. The budget that passed the Senate this week still does not include Medicaid Expansion. Conferees from both chambers will have to negotiate the differences between their budgets to produce a result that we can all vote on. I'm increasingly optimistic that at least one Senate Republican will eventually support Medicaid Expansion and finally bring this desperately needed care to so many Virginians. But as this will be a major disagreement among budget conferees, I urge you to keep the pressure up. I join a large majority of colleagues in my commitment to making sure the final budget includes Medicaid Expansion. And I commit to you that I will not support any budget this year that does not include it.
This week marked the time in session known as "Crossover" which is when all business in one chamber stops so we may take up the business of the other chamber. Moving forward, we will be hearing and voting only on bills which originated in the Senate or House bills amended by the Senate.