VIRGINIA’S STATE Senate Republicans have dug in their heels once again to oppose a Medicaid expansion that would extend health insurance to roughly 400,000 citizens. Their stance is impervious to public opinion, which favors expansion by large margins; at odds with many of the GOP members in the House of Delegates and in some other Republican-controlled legislatures nationwide, who have switched sides in the debate; and heedless of hard-working Virginians for whom there is no health-care alternative save the emergency room.
The Senate Republicans stood pat even though they propose no alternative. They remained unmoved even though their stance left the legislature at an impasse and at risk of a government shutdown unless a solution is found by July, having adjourned this month with no finished budget to present to the governor for his signature.
They have justified their opposition by warning that the federal government, which would pay for 90 percent of the expansion indefinitely, is an unreliable source of funding. Yet here we are, four years after that warning was first sounded in Richmond, and with Republicans in charge of the White House and Senate — and still the federal government shoulders nearly all of the cost in the 32 states (in addition to the District) that have opted for expansion. In the meantime, Virginia has turned its back not just on its own citizens but also on billions of dollars in federal spending.