Virginia House Obstructs Governor's Effort To Expand Medicaid

Virginia's Republican House Speaker William J. Howell killed a line item veto from Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe that would have allowed the governor to use federal funds to expand the low income health care program. In other state health law implementation news, data about health law premium costs is emerging in Colorado. 

The Washington Post: Virginia Lawmakers Finalize Budget, Averting A Shutdown As GOP Thwarts McAuliffe Veto
The Virginia General Assembly completed work late Monday on a two-year, $96 billion state budget, averting a government shutdown and at least temporarily thwarting Gov. Terry McAuliffe's key priority of expanding health coverage under the Affordable Care Act. The setback for McAuliffe (D) — and the long-delayed finalization of the budget — came months into a bitter political standoff between the governor and legislative Republicans over whether to expand government-funded health coverage to 400,000 low-income Virginians under the controversial federal law. The issue has come to define McAuliffe’s young term as governor (Vozzella and Portnoy, 6/23).

The Associated Press: Va. House Tosses Out Governor’s Vetoes
One veto Howell tossed out was of a Republican-backed amendment aimed at preventing him from expanding Medicaid without legislative approval. The House GOP majority blocked McAuliffe’s top legislative priority, leading to a protracted budget stalemate that threatened to shut down government (6/23).

The Richmond Times-Dispatch: House Again Blocks McAuliffe On Medicaid
Gov. Terry McAuliffe faces another roadblock erected by the House of Delegates in his quest to use federal funds to expand health coverage for uninsured Virginians. The question is: Will the governor run through it? House Speaker William J. Howell, R-Stafford, refused on Monday to allow the House to consider McAuliffe’s veto of budget restrictions on his ability to use federal funds for health coverage without the approval of the General Assembly (Martz, 6/23).

Denver Post: Insurance Rates Changes In Colorado Are Mixed Bag
The first data about Colorado health care costs under the Affordable Care Act were released Monday, but it is impossible to tell whether health reform is increasing or lowering costs as the two top providers took different paths on premiums. Kaiser is predicting an average increase of 7 percent in 2015 premiums while HMO Colorado Inc., better known as Anthem, is predicting its average premium will drop 5 percent, the filings show. ACA supporters had promised the reform would eventually reduce rates, while ACA opponents said it will increase costs (Kane, 6/23).

Meanwhile, news from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services -

The Hill: Obamacare Spokeswoman To Leave Administration
The administration official who battled the press during ObamaCare's troubled rollout is resigning her position to seek other opportunities, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced Monday. Julie Bataille, the lead CMS spokeswoman, became known last fall as the main voice on press calls where journalists grilled the administration daily about problems and repairs at HealthCare.gov (Viebeck, 6/23).

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