In Virginia, Budget Negotiators Still Wrestling With Medicaid Expansion Plan

Virginia legislators must come to terms on the state budget blueprint by the legislative session's scheduled March 8 conclusion. The expansion debate also stays hot in Utah and Arkansas.  

The Washington Post: Medicaid Expansion Complicates Va. Budget Negotiations
House and Senate budget negotiators are both incredibly close and hopelessly deadlocked as a deadline looms for reconciling rival state spending plans. Both chambers have passed two-year, $96 billion blueprints that are in step with each other on 99.9 percent of spending. House leaders say the differences — the House plan is more generous to higher education, for instance, while the Senate gives more to K-12 — are easy fixes (Vozzella, 3/2). 

Norfolk Virginian-Pilot: McAuliffe Wants "Conservative" Budget With Medicaid
Gov. Terry McAuliffe cautions against planning state spending on overly optimistic revenue assumptions and reiterates that Medicaid expansion is "the most important decision" facing this General Assembly in a Friday letter to budget negotiators. Arriving with roughly one week until the legislative session's scheduled March 8 ending, the governor's letter that's presented as encouragement instead appeared to inflame House of Delegates Republicans who disagree on Medicaid (Walker, 2/28).

The Associated Press: Battle On Two Fronts For Utah Governor's Medicaid Plan 
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert has finally announced his plan for Medicaid, but he still faces a long road for it to become reality. The first hurdle for the Republican governor will be convincing legislators, particularly those in his own party, that he's not seeking a full Medicaid expansion under the federal health law (3/1).

The Associated Press: Analysis: Arkansas Private-Option Opponents Seek Exit Plan
Heading into this year's legislative session, opponents of Arkansas' compromise Medicaid expansion vowed to push for an exit plan for a program they see as no different from the law they derided as “Obamcare.” Now, they may be the ones in need of an exit strategy. With the impasse over Arkansas' "private option" heading into its third week, opponents of the plan to use federal Medicaid funds to purchase insurance for the poor are looking for a way out of a showdown that could jeopardize the state's budget—not to mention the Republican Party's efforts to build on their recent gains (DeMillo, 3/2).

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