The Republican leadership in the House of Delegates is drawing parallels between the Senate’s private insurance Medicaid alternative proposal and an Arkansas model that failed to be reauthorized just yesterday. The bill to continue funding for the plan got just 70 of the 75 votes needed to pass the 100 member chamber, but the Republican Speaker of the House says he will hold votes every day until it passes. Both the Arkansas and Virginia models use federal Medicaid funds to purchase private insurance for the state’s lowest income residents. The Arkansas program met many of the benchmarks it was intended to achieve. It signed up 100,000 people, many of them the so-called young invincibles needed to spread the risk pool. But Arkansas House Republican Majority Leader Bruce Westerman, who is leading the fight to defund the plan, says it’s a bad deal for the state. Westerman says the longer the plan stays in effect the harder it will be to eliminate.
Virginia House Republican Majority Leader Kirk Cox of Colonial Heights says he doubts many assumptions about the Virginia plan will come to pass. Democratic Delegate Charnielle Herring of Alexandria says using federal Medicaid dollars to expand coverage in Virginia would especially help women. Herring says she believes Republicans are confused on the funding formula behind Medicaid expansion. Democratic Senator Barbara Favola of Arlington says the private coverage option could potentially help 100,000 women. Democratic Delegate Kay Kory of Fairfax says the House Budget uses general fund money for services that could be covered by Medicaid.
Ultimately, budget agreement will decide the plan’s fate, and though negotiations have yet to begin, most doubt the conferees will reach an agreement by their March 8th deadline.