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Advocates Urge Legislators to Vote Their Conscience on Medicaid

Advocates for Medicaid expansion say real people will be affected by the decisions the Virginia legislature makes during its two-day special session, beginning today (September 18) at noon.

Ray Scher, a member of Virginia Organizing, wants legislators to vote their conscience when the consider expanding the state’s Medicaid program. Scher says Medicaid expansion is a social ethical issue, not a political or special interest group issue.

Rust Explains His Medicaid Expansion Alternative Plan

The plan from Republican Delegate Tom Rust of Fairfax returns $1.9 billion that Virginians are already paying under the Affordable Care Act to the Commonwealth, to expand coverage through employer based insurance, managed care organizations and qualified health plans on the federal exchange to create a bridge program.

The Rust plan also provides financial assistance to those who earn between 133% and 150% of the federal poverty rate to encourage them to buy coverage. His bill would then substantially remake the existing Virginia Medicaid program.

McAuliffe and Howell Announce Agreement on Budget Cuts

Governor Terry McAuliffe and Speaker of the House Bill Howell have announced their compromise plan to close the state’s most recent 1.2 billion-dollar budget gap, without raising taxes or cuts to K-12 public education. The plan cuts spending by up to 3.5%, though so far neither the Governor nor the House leadership can say whether that will lead to cuts in state jobs or how many that may be. The state will withdraw just over $700 million from the Rainy Day Fund over the next two years.

State Lawmakers to Tackle Ethics Reform Again

In the wake of the guilty verdicts of former Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen on corruption charges, leaders in the Virginia General Assembly say they will introduce further ethics reforms in the 2015 legislative session. This year’s bipartisan ethics bill was ultimately approved by all 140 members of the General Assembly. It put a $250 cap on tangible gifts public officials can receive from lobbyists and government contractors, lowered many of the financial disclosure requirements from $10,000 to $5,000 and added family members for some of the disclosures.

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