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Healthcare Becomes Focal Point Of Virginia Gubernatorial Race

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Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe made a visit to the Inova Alexandria Hospital today.
Michael Pope
Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe made a visit to the Inova Alexandria Hospital today.

In Virginia, the politics of healthcare are taking center stage in the race for governor.

Democratic gubernatorial contender Terry McAuliffe found himself in the emergency room this week, but not because of a medical emergency. The former Democratic National Committee Chairman was at the Inova Alexandria Hospital to launch his healthcare platform, rejecting Republican criticism that expanding Medicaid could bankrupt the commonwealth.

"Let's say hypothetically down the road, the federal government totally reneges on their commitment. That day, as governor if it happens under my term, I call the General Assembly back in and say we're ending our part of the program too because they didn't honor their deal."

McAuliffe says expanding Medicaid will cover 400,000 uninsured Virginians, bring $21 billion of taxpayer dollars back to Virginia and create 33,000 jobs in the commonwealth by 2021. When asked about whether or not Virginia should create its own healthcare exchange, McAuliffe said that ship has already sailed.

"The decision has been made, and we're in the federal exchange. I can't go in the next day and say we are going change and put it back to the Virginia exchange because we are putting all these procedures in place to be part of the federal exchange now."

Republican candidate Ken Cuccinelli is solidly against the Affordable Care Act, creating a clear line of distinction for voters.

The Cuccinelli campaign responded to McAuliffe with a written statement saying the Medicaid is filled with waste, fraud and abuse—and that expanding it would require tax increases.

Republicans say they fear what would happen if the federal government fails to pay for Medicaid expansion 10 or 20 years from now, when they say the federal government could stick Virginia with a bill that could bankrupt the commonwealth.

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