The 2014 session of the Virginia General Assembly adjourned on March 8th. While the General Assembly adjourned on schedule it did so without passing a new state budget. This has not been an uncommon occurrence over the past decade. Our most recent budget impasse revolves around the issue of expanding Medicaid. During the 2013 session a compromise, in the form of the Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission (MIRC) and various Medicaid reforms, was reached. However with a new Governor and a Senate controlled by the Democrats this compromise was seen as no longer viable. Dissatisfaction with the MIRC stemmed from its inaction on the issue of expansion. Both the proponents and opponents of expansion have couched their main arguments in economic terms with philosophical justification taking a secondary role. The Senate has developed a model called Marketplace Virginia that would provide additional coverage for up to 400,000 Virginians. This would be accomplished using the “private option” method which would enable eligible Virginians to purchase subsidized private insurance. The Governor and Senate argue that this is not Medicaid expansion as envisioned under the PPACA but instead a Virginia way of closing the coverage gap. The House of Delegates, which is dominated by Republicans, believe this to be a matter of semantics and want to insure that already enacted reforms have time to prove their effectiveness and who also want an independent audit of the Medicaid program.
Governor McAuliffe has called a special session of the General Assembly to convene on March 24th. In the interim the House and Senate budget conferees will continue to work on a solution to the budget stalemate. I will keep you up to date as the situation progresses. Please let me know if you have any questions.