The fiercest Obamacare fight in the country just got even more fraught. But in Virginia, as in the many other states in which conservative holdouts are fighting against expanding health-care access to low-income people, there remains only one reasonable solution: Republicans must ultimately compromise on expanding Medicaid.
For months now, Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, has been battling Republicans over whether Virginia should take $2 billion per year of federal money to expand Medicaid within the state, covering some 400,000 people. Amid this deadlock, Phillip Puckett, D-Russell, a state senator, suddenly resigned on Monday, shifting power in the Senate from the Democrats to the Republicans. The newly configured Senate now appears ready to pass a state budget without Medicaid expansion in it, possibly jamming the governor with a spending plan that does not include his top priority. Mr. McAuliffe could try to amend the bill and send it back to the legislature, but it's also very possible that the governor will be thwarted in delivering on his push to expand Medicaid in this legislative round.
Angry Democrats have derided the suspicious circumstances surrounding Mr. Puckett's resignation: He apparently was set to take a job that Republicans on a state tobacco commission were to offer him. Amid all the uproar, Mr. Puckett decided not to take the job, but his daughter still stands to gain from his resignation, as his presence in the legislature has been complicating her rise as a state judge. "I am dismayed by news today that my Republican friends have offered Sen. Puckett an unseemly, shady, backroom deal," House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mark D. Sickles, Fairfax, said.