Virginia House of Delegates Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) announced Wednesday that he intends to reconvene the House of Delegates the week of September 22 to debate Medicaid expansion. Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment, Jr. (R-James City) announced that the Senate will be also be in session that week.
The exact date and time of the reconvened session has not been set. Speaker Howell and Senate Rules Committee Chairman Ryan T. McDougle (R-Hanover) plan on issuing formal calls after Labor Day.
“Throughout Governor McAuliffe’s unnecessary budget impasse, I and other House leaders consistently expressed our commitment to a full and fair debate on the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act,” Speaker Howell noted. “We intend to honor that commitment by reconvening in September of this year.”
“Agreeing to hold a session on this issue was essential to resolving the budget standoff,” Senator Norment remarked. “Although I remain to be persuaded that Medicaid expansion would be the right financial decision for Virginia, any decision to enact a change this major would require the General Assembly’s approval.”
Commenting on Medicaid expansion, Speaker Howell added, “I have expressed my deep concerns about Medicaid expansion. Our current program is unsustainable and needs reform, Virginia cannot afford the long-term costs and we cannot trust the federal government to pay for Medicaid expansion forever, and expansion would dramatically shift Virginia’s approach to Medicaid, expanding it from a limited safety net to a welfare-entitlement program that covers able-bodied, working adults.
“Despite these personal concerns, I strongly believe that Virginians deserve a full and fair debate on the issue, which is why I will call the House back in September. This session will provide lawmakers on both sides of this debate with an opportunity to put forward ideas and proposals that can be considered on their merits. Ultimately, this decision belongs to the legislative branch.”