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Letter to the Editor: Broken Compromise

To the Editor:

During the final week of the General Assembly Session this year, the Virginia State Senate Democrats worked with Gov. Robert McDonnell to reach a compromise to pass a transportation plan — a plan that is funded in part by funds not yet appropriated from Congress — funds unlikely to ever materialize for Virginia. In return for the Senate Democrats’ votes for the transportation plan, the Governor signed an agreement on Medicaid expansion. We thought this agreement was made in good faith. We are disappointed that Governor McDonnell appears now to be backing out on this agreement, choosing to pacify the right wing of his party instead of working for the health and well-being of our Commonwealth.

In a letter to the Obama Administration, McDonnell stated that there has been no agreement to expand Medicaid. “Some media outlets and elected officials have labeled this [the compromise agreement] as approving Medicaid expansion in Virginia. This is absolutely incorrect,” he wrote to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

Medicaid expansion would provide health care for more than 400,000 Virginians who work but are unable to afford insurance. It would also provide some 30,000 jobs. Cost for Medicaid expansion will largely be borne by federal funding. Refusing these funds will send millions of Virginia tax dollars to other states. Virginia presently ranks 48th out of 50 states in Medicaid spending.

Senate Democrats agreed to approve this transportation plan only after we believed that Governor McDonnell was agreeing to the expansion of Medicaid. We were misled. I am extremely disappointed that the compromise was not what I thought it was.

Linda T. “Toddy” Puller

State Senator (D-36)