RICHMOND, Va. (WUSA9) -- Governor Terry McAuliffe has vetoed parts of the $96 billion two-year budget designed to keep him from expanding Medicaid. In a news conference at the Capital, he vowed to bring healthcare to 400,000 uninsured Virginians without legislative approval.
"With respect to healthcare, let me be clear, we are moving forward," Gov. McAuliffe said in his prepared statement. Then he railed on Republicans for not including healthcare expansion in the budget.
He vetoed language GOP lawmakers added to prevent him from expanding Medicaid through executive order, which he now plans to do.
Republicans say McAuliffe has no legal authority to do that and hinted of a legal fight ahead.
McAuliffe said it was "unconscionable" that the GOP leadership refused to accept the federals dollars that come with expanding Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act. He said taxpayers in Virginia are forfeiting $5 million a day, and a total of $852 million so far.
The Republican majority is opposed to accepting the federal program. Delegates Scott Lingamfelter, R-Woodbrige, and Richard Anderson, R-Woodbridge, pointed to the $7 trillion federal debt, and said that expanding Medicaid in Virginia would add to that debt. They also say there's no way to get out of the ACA if it doesn't work or if the Federal Government reneges on funding levels.
McAuliffe said he has a written guarantee from the Department of Health and Human Services that would allow Virginia to withdraw from the program.
He said he is moving forward asking his own Secretary of Health and Human Resources, William T. Hazel, to find a pathway for expansion.
"Secretary Hazel will have a plan on my desk by no later than September, first detailing how we can move Virginia health care forward even in the face of the demagoguery, lies, fear and cowardice that have gripped this debate for too long."
The Governor also stopped funding to a commission lawmakers set up to study Medicaid expansion, calling it a sham made to look like lawmakers were working on it when they weren't.
The General Assembly will gather Monday evening, June 23, to discuss the Governor's vetoes. It's unlikely the veto striking the anti-Medicaid expansion language would be overturned in the Senate, as Republicans only have a one-vote majority there.
Written by Peggy Fox