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McAuliffe Considers Next Move On Virginia Medicaid Expansion

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Gov. Terry McAuliffe's veto of part of the Republican-supported budget was itself overridden by the Speaker of the House.
(AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Gov. Terry McAuliffe's veto of part of the Republican-supported budget was itself overridden by the Speaker of the House.

The Virginia General Assembly has effectively prohibited Gov. Terry McAuliffe from moving forward with expanding health insurance for 400,000 Virginians who live in poverty or with disabilities — at least for now.

McAuliffe ran on a platform of expanding Medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act, and the issue has consumed his first few months in office. So far, Republicans have been able to block him from expanding Medicaid, and the governor is asking Secretary of Health and Human Resources Bill Hazel to come up with a plan of action.

University of Mary Washington professor Stephen Farnsworth says it's unlikely McAuliffe will back down.

"It seems pretty clear to me that the governor wants to do this, and so my guess is that this story ends up in front of the courts and so some judge decides whether or not what the governor has proposed for expansion of Medicaid is constitutional or not," Farnsworth says.

One potential avenue the governor could be exploring is the use of a public-private partnership, an approach the previous governor used for transportation. Christopher Newport University professor Quentin Kidd says the governor could use a similar approach to health care.

"The legislative branch has essentially conceded that this public-private partnership authority exists, and so they can't very well then go to court to try to challenge the McAuliffe administration for trying to use it in a difference policy area."

A spokesman for the governor says McAuliffe will to announce his next course of action by the beginning of September.

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