Huffpost Politics

Bob McDonnell, Virginia Governor, Holding Out On Medicaid Expansion Decision Until After November

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Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell signaled Tuesday that he is still weighing whether his state will opt out of the Medicaid expansion created by President Barack Obama's health care reform law.

"Without significant reform…it would not be responsible to expand Medicaid, so we've got a lot of things to work through," he told WTOP in an hour-long Q-and-A with radio listeners.

McDonnell, chairman of the Republican Governors Association and a top surrogate for presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, said he was not satisfied with the "non-answer" he received after sending a seven-page letter to the federal government earlier this month. In that letter, McDonnell asked Obama for "prompt answers" to 30 questions that states need resolved before they can implement the Medicaid expansion, which would extend health care coverage to as many as 16 million low-income adults.

Pressed about the timing of his decision on the Medicaid expansion, McDonnell said he is holding out on a Romney presidency. The former Massachusetts governor has promised to grant a "waiver from Obamacare to all 50 states" once elected.

"Why would I waste taxpayer dollars in next 100 days if the situation could change drastically by then?" McDonnell asked.

Despite McDonnell's concern, the federal government will cover 100 percent of the costs for the first three years when the expansion begins in 2014, gradually scaling down to 90 percent in 2020.

The Supreme Court ruled in June that states can opt out of the Medicaid expansion, leading several Republican governors to announce their states will not participate.

McDonnell's view mirrors those of GOP governors Mary Fallin of Oklahoma and Matt Mead of Wyoming, who admitted states will be in the "same place" and forced to make a more urgent decision on the Medicaid opt-out if Obama wins in November.

McDonnell told The Huffington Post earlier this month that there is too much "uncertainty" surrounding the Affordable Care Act now that the high court has deemed the individual mandate a tax and made the Medicaid expansion voluntary for states.

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