Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) and the rest of the state's GOP leadership have opposed President Barack Obama's health care law since the start. The state's attorney general and likely Republican gubernatorial candidate, Ken Cuccinelli, even sued to kill the law.
So McDonnell surprised no one when he decided last month Virginia wouldn't create a health insurance exchange under Obamacare. The trouble, though, is that health care reform is coming to the state and its residents whether Virginia's Republican politicians want it or not. It's a reality Republican opponents of Obama's health care law are facing across the country.
That's why the McDonnell administration and some GOP legislators are working behind the scenes to get ready, as the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported Wednesday.
Against McDonnell's stated position that the federal government should do all the work to set up and maintain a health insurance exchange, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported some Republican legislators are pushing for the state to work in partnership with federal authorities, an option seven other states including neighboring West Virginia and North Carolina already have chosen. Twenty-five states, including Virginia, will have a federally operated exchange while 17 states and the District of Columbia will run their own. Mississippi's case is still up in the air.
Virginia also has asked the federal government for $4.8 million to upgrade its computer systems so they can link to the federally run health insurance exchange that's set to go live on Oct. 1, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Virginia's computers will have to be able to share information with the federal government's so people searching for health coverage can find out whether they qualify for Medicaid or federal health insurance tax credits. The state also is paying Deloitte Consulting $100 million to improve other systems used to determine eligibility for Medicaid and other safety net programs, the newspaper reported.
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