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A federal judge delays Michael Flynn’s sentencing after berating him in the courtroom. Also on Wednesday's rundown: The Trump asylum ban could go into effect at midnight; and North Carolina voters demand answers in an election-fraud case.

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Health-Care Advocates Prepare for Medicaid Expansion

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, a pediatrician who made Medicaid expansion a centerpiece of his campaign in 2017, is expected to sign the legislation soon. (Twenty20/Esther Visier)
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, a pediatrician who made Medicaid expansion a centerpiece of his campaign in 2017, is expected to sign the legislation soon. (Twenty20/Esther Visier)
June 5, 2018

RICHMOND, Va. – Last week's vote on the state budget ended years of partisan gridlock over whether the Commonwealth should expand the publicly funded health-care program for the poor known as Medicaid. Now the focus turns to the challenge of getting more than 400,000 residents covered.

A fight over Medicaid expansion led to a similar standoff over the state budget in 2014, but this time while many Republicans still fought against the plan, claiming expansion will overwhelm the rest of the state budget, several GOP lawmakers joined with Democrats in a compromise.

Jim Dau is the state director for Virginia AARP. He says he's thankful to see lawmakers ultimately come together and see the need for increasing health-care access.

"Very few people are happy with everything in it, but that's the way that compromises can be, and we certainly will be back in action to try to see if we can work to improve upon provisions that would add onerous eligibility requirements for people to get Medicaid," he explains.

Dau is particularly concerned with work requirements and lockout periods. Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam is expected to sign the budget in coming days, and the newly eligible low-income Virginia residents can begin enrolling in Medicaid at the start of next year.

Expanding Medicaid was a key provision of then-President Barack Obama's health-care overhaul, but President Donald Trump has vigorously sought to overturn the health law. Dau says even at this point, with the General Assembly's approval, Virginia's transition is not going to be easy.

"This is going to be, you know, a significant, intensive administrative undertaking by the state government to apply for and implement Medicaid expansion," he adds. "AARP is certainly willing to work with lawmakers, administration officials, anyone who is willing to listen on how we can help with implementation."

A roundup from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows Virginia will become the 33rd state to approve Medicaid expansion.

Trimmel Gomes, Public News Service - VA