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Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe of Virginia makes remarks during a
Gov. Terry McAuliffe has been in a stalemate with the Virginia General Assembly for months over one of his top priorities for the state: covering up to 400,000 uninsured Virginians with Medicaid expansion under Obamacare. The Republican-led legislature has steadfastly refused to accept the federal money and the deadlock is potentially threatening a state government shutdown in July. Reports from Virginia say that McAuliffe is considering breaking that impasse through executive action.
McAuliffe and his top advisers have consulted lawyers, health-care experts and legislators on how to bypass the GOP-dominated House of Delegates, according to three people familiar with the discussions. A fourth, who like the others spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to reveal private strategy, said the office of Attorney General Mark R. Herring (D) has been researching the matter.

The move would allow Virginia to take advantage of a key state option under the Affordable Care Act, and it could help break a budget stalemate and avert a looming government shutdown. But it would be a daring action; only two other governors have done anything similar to bulldoze Medicaid expansion past opponents.

Those two governors are Kentucky Democrat Steve Beshear, and Ohio Republican John Kasich, both of which had legal leeway to unilaterally act that McAuliffe might lack. In Kentucky, Medicaid eligibility levels are set by regulation and can be changed by executive rather than legislation action. In Ohio, Kasich had the power to direct an administrative board that oversees state contracting to approve the Medicaid expansion. McAuliffe is going to need a similar executive power loophole in state law to pull it off.

Politically, actually expanding Medicaid by executive action would set off a firestorm within the state. But exploring that option, and doing it if a legal way is available to do so, is something that a purple state governor shouldn't be afraid of. For one thing, reliable polling in the state shows solid bipartisan support among voters for the expansion.

At this point neither McAuliffe nor Herring is confirming that they're exploring this option, but when asked directly, neither has denied it. It would be dereliction of duty for McAuliffe to not explore acting on his own, given how many Virginians have fallen into the Medicaid gap.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Fri May 02, 2014 at 11:32 AM PDT.

Also republished by Virginia Kos, Obamacare Saves Lives, and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (36+ / 0-)

    "The NSA’s capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything. [...] There would be no place to hide."--Frank Church

    by Joan McCarter on Fri May 02, 2014 at 11:32:41 AM PDT

  •  T-Mac is term limited (6+ / 0-)

    Virginia Governors cannot run for re-election. They can serve multiple terms, just not consecutive terms (see Mills Godwin). So the impact of aggressive action on a re-election bid is non-existent: this will be T-Mac calculating how much the popularity of the action and his assertion of executive authority can achieve.

    Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. --Martin Luther King Jr.

    by Egalitare on Fri May 02, 2014 at 12:11:25 PM PDT

    •  I think he should do it... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dackmont, BusyinCA

      but if the GOP are willing to shoot themselves in the foot, why take away the loaded gun?? If the Virginia GOP are willing to shut down the state government, then in the words of President Obama, "please proceed."

      They will get railed on by the media and Terry McAuliffe can then say "I just want to give health care to Virginians and I can't understand why the GOP don't care about lower income people in our state. It's like they're turning this into some sort of death panel."

      After a week or so, T-Mac can then make an executive order to expand Medicaid, boosting his popularity and hurting the GOP at the same time. This is how Virginia Dems can win on this issue.

      •  He should definitely do it... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        GleninCA, BusyinCA

        If there was ever a time when the means justified the ends, this is it.  If our highest-ranking officials can break the law and torture with zero accountability, then fuggit, just break the law for the sake of half a million poor people's health.  Seriously.  I mean, what bad precedent do we set here -- bypassing procedure to help people, wow, the Dems are finally acting like a "good" version of the GOP.  Everyone except the GOP and DINO's and the yammering classes want the Dems to grow a set.

        That said:  tempting as it is to let the GOP have their loaded gun and voluntarily shut down the gov't, I'm not sure it's the best idea, given that the gun may just blow up and hurt both sides.  Support for Medicaid expansion in VA is softening, per one poll.  Either way, doing the expansion sooner makes it more likely to stick, even if there's an initial freakout.

        Don't wuss out, T-Mac and Herring, just do it!  

        "Happiness is the only good. The place to be happy is here. The time to be happy is now. The way to be happy is to make others so." - Robert Ingersoll

        by dackmont on Sat May 03, 2014 at 12:00:51 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Virginia is A Southern (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    State and most after the Civil War setup the Governors with little power.  Why, the Southern State Governors after the Civil War were Union Officers.  The real power is held by the Lt. Governor.  Not sure this would be the case with Virginia, but this may be the route to take.

  •  Medicaid Expansion? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lying eyes, dackmont

    Just do it, Terry...

  •  Any way to arrange for a state referendum or (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    plebiscite on the issue to put pressure on the legislature?

    Them's fightin' words!!!

    by Leo Sagittarius on Fri May 02, 2014 at 02:32:50 PM PDT

  •  Go ahead T-Mac (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    roberb7, ichibon
    Politically, actually expanding Medicaid by executive action would set off a firestorm within the state.
    Rattle them cages, baby!

    If I ran this circus, things would be DIFFERENT!

    by CwV on Fri May 02, 2014 at 02:53:12 PM PDT

  •  I know this was auto-posted (5+ / 0-)

    ...and written hours ago, but:

    Gov. Terry McAuliffe has been in a statement with the Virginia General Assembly for months over one of his top priorities for the state
    Joan, I think you meant "stalemate" and the spell checker hosed you.
  •  This should be his offer (0+ / 0-)

    If the GOP agrees to expand MediCare they can use the "Arkansas model" (use medicare dollars to purchase private insurance), if McAuliffe is forced to go it alone, under unilateral expansion that option will be off the table.

    That may get insurance companies to pressure more country club style Republicans elected from NoVa. But I don't know if even that willwork.

    -1.63/ -1.49 "Speaking truth to power" (with snark of course)! Follow on Twitter @dopper0189

    by dopper0189 on Fri May 02, 2014 at 07:15:03 PM PDT

  •  How electing Democrats (8+ / 0-)

    even Democrats like McAuliffe, makes a difference.

    KOS: "Mocking partisans focusing on elections? Even less reason to be on Daily Kos."

    by fcvaguy on Fri May 02, 2014 at 07:15:48 PM PDT

  •  McAuliffe ran as a liberal... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ichibon, dackmont

    ...and won as a liberal. No state shouldn't have the expansion, and if nothing else the rest of Virginia should benefit from being part of DC's suburbs. Elections have consequences, and expanded Medicaid should be one of them.

    it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses

    by Addison on Fri May 02, 2014 at 07:18:11 PM PDT

  •  He has my total support! It is a life or death (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    roberb7, Lying eyes, ichibon, dackmont

    matter and the house is so stacked.

    An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

    by don mikulecky on Fri May 02, 2014 at 07:30:35 PM PDT

  •  Good to see sanity returning to my home state (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mudslide, dackmont

    It's nice to see someone in state politics considering the right thing, regardless of the political backlash. Virginia has flip-flopped politically more often than I can think since I came of voting age.

    Hopefully, McAuliffe has the guts to do the right thing for the people of Virginia (and there are many poor people in VA, despite the general wealth level).

  •  Gov. Terry McAuliffe has been in a statement (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gov. Terry McAuliffe has been in a statement with the Virginia General Assembly for months over one of his top priorities for the state: covering up to 400,000 uninsured Virginians with Medicaid expansion under Obamacare.
    I thin you mean...

    Gov. Terry McAuliffe has been in a stalemate with the Virginia General Assembly for months over one of his top priorities for the state: covering up to 400,000 uninsured Virginians with Medicaid expansion under Obamacare.

  •  I hope he goes for it however... (0+ / 0-)

    the state's top constitutional expert, UVA's A.E. Dick Howard is skeptical of his ability to pull it off (paraphrasing). Howard helped craft constitutional revisions some years ago. He has, as they say, "street cred".

    "We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both." - Louis D. Brandeis

    by VA6thDem on Sat May 03, 2014 at 06:43:19 AM PDT

  •  Why do VA Republican legislators (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    want to be tagged as a Death Panel? Medicaid expansion saves lives.

    Back off, man. I'm a logician.—GOPBusters™

    by Mokurai on Sat May 03, 2014 at 07:57:08 AM PDT

  •  Republicans are badly wedged on this... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The business community and the hospital infrastructure are firmly in favor of Medicaid expansion. Many of the state's conservative newspapers are either keeping quiet or openly in favor, e.g., my local paper, the Free-Lance Star in Fredericksburg. I live in Unspeakable Howell's district and while they give him space in the paper to regurgitate ALEC-based nonsense, they are on board for expansion. The local hospitals in the rural SW part of the state, where the most hard-shell right-wingers are, would be devastated if there is no expansion. Even here in the Fredericksburg region, there are warnings that Mary Washington Healthcare, which runs two hospitals, cannot survive without expansion. Whether the Governor can actually force this through by solo action is constitutionally dubious absent any (unlikely) enabling legislation. Point out to recalcitrant types that Medicaid expansion means lower auto insurance rates, and they look dumbfounded until you explain how things work. Then they shut up; who doesn't like lower auto insurance rates?

  •  Do It, Governor! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GleninCA, BeninSC

    Please show the same brave leadership your counterparts in KY and OH have. The hundreds of thousands in VA you help will be better off; ......maybe you'll even save some lives.

    And no doubt you'll get more votes, when you run for re-election. So, Governor, you have both altruistic and pragmatic reasons to do this,

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