Health & Human Services

If Elected Virginia Governor, McAuliffe Faces Obamacare Showdown

Terry McAuliffe has made Medicaid expansion central to his bid for governor, saying it would provide health insurance to 400,000 needy Virginians, create thousands of jobs and provide the state with a $2 billion a year windfall.
September 16, 2013
 

Terry McAuliffe has made Medicaid expansion central to his bid for governor, saying it would provide health insurance to 400,000 needy Virginians, create thousands of jobs and provide the state with a $2 billion a year windfall.

Some Republicans say his push to expand the health-care program could lead to something less appealing: a government shutdown.

“I will not sign a budget in Virginia unless it includes the Medicaid expansion,” McAuliffe said this summer in an interview with AARP. He made a similar comment at a dinner with Loudoun County Democrats, the Loudoun Times reported in June.

Given overwhelming opposition to expansion in the GOP-dominated House of Delegates, that campaign promise amounts to a threat to hold the state budget hostage to McAuliffe’s Medicaid goal, some Republicans say. Critics say it also shows that McAuliffe, who has billed himself as a bipartisan consensus builder, would take a highly partisan, autocratic approach to governing.

“Terry McAuliffe wants to paint himself as a bipartisan problem-solver, but he’s already drawing red lines and threatening Washington-style government shutdowns here in Virginia,” said House Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford).

McAuliffe’s campaign said he was not threatening a shutdown, just expressing the importance he places on expansion.

“Medicaid expansion is a top priority for Terry and a goal shared by mainstream Republicans in Virginia and across the country,” McAuliffe spokesman Josh ­Schwerin said in an e-mail. “Nobody is arguing for a government shutdown. Terry hopes to work in a bipartisan way to get this mainstream accomplishment done.”

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