McAuliffe all about the bipartisanship in his inauguration, but Medicaid expansion is on deck

posted at 5:31 pm on January 11, 2014 by Erika Johnsen

Terry McAuliffe’s victory over Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli in Virginia’s gubernatorial race in November came to fruition today, and predictably, his inaugural address was big on the partisan-healing, across-the-aisle style of politicking he claims that he will bring with him to Richmond, via Politico:

Terry McAuliffe, the legendary Democratic fundraiser and political fixer, had a message for Republicans during his rain-drenched inauguration Saturday as Virginia’s governor: Let’s make a deal.

“The impediments to consensus are well known: ideology, personal political ambition, partisanship or score-settling,” the 56-year-old said as longtime allies Bill and Hillary Clinton looked on. “No one who has served as an elected official has looked back and wished they had been more rigid, more ideological or more partisan. …

“Like four years ago, the skeptics are predicting divided government driven to gridlock by partisanship,” McAuliffe said. “Virginia, together, we will prove them wrong again.”

Still, the challenges are very real, and McAuliffe, who barely won his race, may have little room to maneuver. The 16-minute speech made clear the extent to which he understands that his success depends on crossover Republican support.

Whether McAuliffe can talk the talk and walk the walk is about to be tested in short order; the Obama administration is already counting on Virginia as “committed” to expanding Medicaid, and McAuliffe is going to have to make good on his campaign pledge to do so. The partisanship of the state Senate is currently 50/50 (and up for grabs with upcoming special elections this year), but the House of Delegates is still under Republican control, and House Speaker William Howell is none too keen on the Medicaid expansion. He made himself crystal clear in an op-ed last weekend:

As I have said many times before, Medicaid should not be expanded in Virginia for several reasons. First, the rollout of Obamacare is demonstrating that government-run health care does not work. Second, Medicaid still needs serious reforms. Third, there is no guarantee the federal government will keep its promise to pay for the expansion.

Instead of expanding Medicaid, Virginia should explore an alternative approach to covering those in the Obamacare coverage gap. We can do this without becoming entangled in Obamacare, expanding a broken program or relying on borrowed federal dollars.

Medicaid expansion is a key part of President Barack Obama’s health care law. Over the last four months, Americans have watched Obamacare unravel. The website barely works, premiums have skyrocketed and millions of health care plans have been canceled.

The troubles with Obamacare indicate that government-run health care programs don’t work well, if they “work” at all. It would be irresponsible for Virginia to become further entangled in Obamacare, and that’s exactly what Medicaid expansion would do.

The General Assembly convened for their 60-day session last Wednesday, so I’d expect the party to get started pretty quickly here.


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