Brian Fauls, Government Manager
In Virginia, our elected officials pride themselves on working out even the thorniest of policy problems in a collegial manner; the so-called “Virginia way.” The most recent case in point was last year’s bipartisan transportation bill, which has already raised $146 million to fund improvements to Northern Virginia’s overtaxed roads.
However, this year, the Virginia way may have met its match. Right now the Democrat Governor and Democrat-led Virginia Senate are locked in a bitter struggle with the Republican-led House of Delegates over the question of whether or not to use federal Medicaid dollars to help the estimated 400,000 Virginians stuck in the health insurance coverage gap.
In a somewhat ironic twist, the drama playing out in Richmond is a mirror image of the drama we saw in Washington, D.C. a few months ago; which ultimately led to a federal government shutdown. In that case, Republicans in the House of Representatives attached controversial healthcare provisions to the must-pass budget bill. In the current case in Richmond, Virginia Senate Democrats have attached a controversial healthcare provision to the state budget. Whether we have a shutdown of the state government remains to be seen, but the shutdown card is definitely on the table.
But, maybe, just maybe the Virginia way can still triumph. Last week, the Northern Virginia Chamber Partnership – comprised of the Dulles Regional, Greater Reston and Loudoun County chambers of commerce – called on the Virginia General Assembly and Governor McAuliffe to enact a public-private, managed care solution to the healthcare impasse. A managed care model coupled to reform of the traditional Medicaid program and a hold harmless clause if the federal government reneges on their commitments could be the win-win everybody is looking for. Will our elected officials in Richmond seize the opportunity to embrace the Virginia way or will it be Richmond on the Potomac; only time will tell.