A lot of posturing, not much progress.
That may be the way to describe the status of negotiations at the State Capitol. Virginia Democrats, led by Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) remain committed to only passing a budget that contains an expansion of Medicaid. Republicans, led by Speaker William Howell and Del. Kirk Cox refuse to budge.
Thursday McAuliffe used the expected roll out of a new program that will combine Medicaid and Medicare programs for Virginians who are eligible for both as an example that the state is ready for wholesale expansion.
The reform is significant and supported by republicans and democrats, but republicans were quick to say it has nothing to do with Medicaid expansion and especially as it relates to the budget.
It seems that despite a lot of public sabre rattling, we aren't much closer to a deal on the budget.
Here is my story for NBC12:
RICHMOND (WWBT)- The announcement of Virginia's move to blend Medicare and Medicaid was going to happen with or without an expansion of Medicaid.
But Governor Terry McAuliffe (D) believes it is an example of how Virginia has worked to reform the process. Republicans still don't believe the state or the federal government is ready for that kind of huge investment.
It was a campaign promise, and Governor McAuliffe continues his push for expansion, any which way he can.
"This Medicaid expansion and how it relates to Medicaid in Virginia this is critical to our budget it is already 20% of our budget," the Governor said in a one on one interview in his office.
McAuliffe continues to hold firm on his belief the budget cannot go through without Medicaid expansion. Republicans argue both sides should be having two different conversations.
'We need a clean budget not one that includes Medicaid expansion something that was inserted and not introduced by the governor something that was inserted by the senate and is holding up the other priority needs of the commonwealth," and said Del. Chris Jones (R-Suffolk) the lead budget negotiator in the House.
According to the governor today's announcement that people eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid can now sign up for one program- is evidence that Virginia has made great strides reforming the system and prepared to cover more people.
"It is a win win it shows that Virginia is on top leading on what we need to do on these health care reforms," McAuliffe said.
But republicans aren't ready to budge, and aren't ready to trust the federal government to hold up its end of the bargain long term.
"We knew this coming in I've met with shareholder groups back in October that were concerned about the contracts," said Jones. "I think there are three insurers they are dealing with. So this is nothing new. There is nothing new with this."
...read the full story on NBC12.com
Meanwhile some 78 thousand Virginians are already starting to take advantage of the new blended program.
Mike Valerio covered that part of the story and how it will directly impact those who are eligible for both programs:
RICHMOND (WWBT)- In an effort to cut confusion and cut costs, Governor Terry McAuliffe announced the merger of Medicare and Medicaid benefits for Virginians enrolled in both programs Thursday. The move eliminates two sets of often misaligned rules, and launches the new endeavor in one new program.
The new initiative is now known as Commonwealth Coordinated Care (CCC), a program that will cover an estimated 78,000 Virginians. Gov. McAuliffe said the goal is to eliminate complicated rules, and to help patients request the care they need.
"Nationwide, individuals who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid typically have the highest and most complex medical needs but are often underserved," McAuliffe said at a news conference Thursday. "CCC will blend all of the benefits currently provided under Medicare and Medicaid into one plan."
Letters are now being sent to all Virginians who are eligible for the plan. The letters provide information on how to enroll, as well as contact information for representatives who can answer questions.
Highlights of CCC include a care manager for each patient, a feature Secretary of Health and Human Resources, Dr. William A. Hazel, Jr. said goes beyond current benefits for Medicaid and Medicare.
"[A care manager] will complete a comprehensive evaluation to understand the enrollee's situation and work directly with the enrollee to develop a plan of care that is tailored to their needs and preferences," Hazel said.
Republicans largely dismissed the announcement as a plan that was already in the works for three years. Advocates for senior citizens also expressed concerns that patients may throw out the enrollment letters by mistake, or not understand the changes.
"Even if the letter is thrown out, people who receive certain medications from Medicaid and Medicare will continue to receive the same medications under the new system," said Cindi Jones, director of Virginia's Department of Medical Assistance Services in a phone interview Thursday. "And if you don't like the new merged plan, you have the right to opt out, and go back to how things were before."
read and see Mike's full story on NBC12.com