Because of Medicaid expansion, I didn’t support the Senate budget

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Senator Steve Newman
23rd District

    Virginia’s Capitol enjoyed warmer temperatures this week, while inside the Capitol the Senate of Virginia and the House of Delegates unveiled their respective plans to the Commonwealth’s two-year budget. 
    It was the second half of the week that generated most interest around Capitol Square. On Thursday, both chambers considered their respective versions of the 2014-2016 Budget.  There is a very big difference between the House and Senate plans and this difference will not be easy to rectify.
    The Senate’s budget proposal includes a plan to expand Medicaid, which its proponents call “Marketplace Virginia.”  Because of a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, states have the option of determining whether or not they want to expand their Medicaid programs.  Many states have opted not to expand Medicaid and thereby not expand the failed Obamacare. I agree and voted against the bill for this reason.
    Over the last three decades, Medicaid expenditures have ballooned by 1600%.  That is not a typo.  Over the last 10 years, Virginia’s share of Medicaid spending has doubled, growing from $1.8 billion in 2004 to $3.7 billion in 2014.  Medicaid currently accounts for 20% of Virginia’s General Fund expenditures, and is growing much faster than overall state spending.
    If the program were efficient, it might at least partially account for its explosive growth.  But it is not.  Last year alone, the Attorney General’s Office won nearly $200 million in settlements related to Medicaid fraud. Many Medicaid expansion advocates assert that ObamaCare is the law of the land.  But as more Americans are learning the hard way, this law is failing miserably. 
    Millions of hardworking families have had their health insurance plans cancelled, and millions more have experienced skyrocketing premiums and enormous deductibles because of ObamaCare.  The promise that everyone could keep their plan if they liked their plan and the promise that you can continue seeing your family doctor have turned out to be untrue.     Furthermore, President Obama has made two dozen substantive changes to the law without Congressional action, making it the only landmark act in history that can be altered by the executive branch as easily as Play-Doh. Considering all of the upheaval, increased costs, arbitrary changes, and insecurity this law has caused, why would Virginia go “all in” by accepting an optional component?
    The House of Delegates passed a budget without expanding Medicaid.  I think the House got this point in the budget right.   As a result, I voted against the Senate’s version of Virginia’s budget.
    The Obama Administration has been changing health care regulations from the executive branch and this week they did the same to our 22 years of hard work to secure the Route 29 Bypass around Charlottesville. This time the Obama Administration swept aside all the work the Commonwealth has dedicated to this state road with a single letter. It is another reflection of the rule of law being ignored, similar to the ongoing battle to dismantle Virginia’s constitutional protection of traditional marriage.
    During this busy legislative week, we enjoyed meeting visitors who traveled from back home to the General Assembly. Mari and Brian with WIQO 100.9 traveled to the Capitol for a live broadcast. It was also a pleasure to meet with local members of Concerned Women of America, Virginia Military Institute cadets and local members of the Virginia Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
    As always, my wife, Kim, and I thank you for the opportunity to serve you in the Virginia Senate. If you would like to get more information about what is happening in your state government please join me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/senatornnewman or visit my website at www.SenatorNewman.com or Twitter @senatornewman.
    (Members of the Senate Republican Caucus contributed to this report.)