RICHMOND, Va. (WVEC) -- Virginia House Republicans have indicated they might be willing to discuss expanding Medicaid, but only if reforms are made.
Virginia Beach Republican Delegate Jason Miyares is sponsoring House Bill 338, which would add a work requirement for current able-bodied, working-age Medicaid recipients.
“We really want to reduce the Medicaid rolls and our hope, frankly, is that a lot of people will go on to work that will allow them to get into private insurance,” said Republican House Speaker Kirk Cox.
However, democrat Hampton Delegate Jeion Ward voted against the bill in the Rules Committee.
“The way it’s worded, it makes it sound as though there are so many people that are just trying to get the Medicaid without even working, but the majority of them are already working,” said Ward.
She added that 70% of the recipients in her district already work, they’re just low wage earners. She said she doesn’t understand who the bill is targeting.
“I would like to look at it [the bill] deeper and see exactly who will we be eliminating from coverage,” said Ward.
In a letter to Governor Northam, House Speaker Cox said reforms would have to be passed in order to begin talks of Medicaid expansion.
“The House is willing to begin a dialogue on healthcare that includes significant reforms and strong taxpayer safeguards, but I want to be clear that the 51-member House Republican Caucus has taken a binding caucus position against 'straightforward' Medicaid expansion.”
Governor Northam responded with a letter saying, “I hope you will agree to address the biggest issue first by working with my team to expand coverage in a way that works for Virginians, our businesses, and our budget.”
Governor Northam said the cost of administering the work program would range from $7.6 million dollars to $64 million, depending on how robust the House decides to make it.
The bill will go before the appropriations committee on Friday and if it passes, it will proceed to the House floor for a vote.