Republican lawmakers call for Medicaid audit

RICHMOND, Va. - Republican lawmakers in Virginia are proposing a new audit of the state's Medicaid program, which Gov. Terry McAuliffe wants to expand.

GOP leaders reiterated their stance at a Capitol news conference Monday that they don't think Medicaid is going to expand this year.

McAuliffe has made expanding the publicly-funded program, which provides health insurance to the poor, a top priority of his administration.

Under the new federal health care law, the federal government would cover the cost of adding the 400,000 Virginians eligible for expansion for the first three years.

Republicans say the program is currently rife with fraud and waste, and the audit is needed to identify possible reforms.

Last week, the McAuliffe administration released revised budget projections predicting the state would save money under the federal law. The National Federation of Independent Business, Virginia's leading small business association, today reiterated its opposition to Medicaid expansion.

"Virginia's small-business owners have spoken, and they strongly oppose the General Assembly expanding the Medicaid program in Virginia," said Nicole Riley, state director of NFIB/Virginia, the state's largest small-business association with 5,400 dues-paying member businesses.

According to the 2014 NFIB/Virginia Member Ballot, 81 percent of NFIB members in the commonwealth believe the legislature should not allow any expansion of Medicaid. Unlike other business groups, NFIB's public-policy positions aren't determined by a board of directors but are based solely on the position of a majority of its members. The Member Ballot is essential to this process. "It is clear that small-business owners are concerned about the debt crisis and skeptical that Washington will keep its promises," Riley said. "They understand that expanding Medicaid would come with a heavy fiscal burden at a time when our country is dealing with a fiscal crisis. Virginia business owners don't want our state wandering down the same path."

As the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, NFIB members have continually cited the cost of healthcare as the number one concern facing their business, and have advocated for a fiscally-responsible solution to the healthcare crisis. "Small-business owners realize that there is no such thing as free money from the federal government and any burden that comes as a result of Medicaid expansion will come from their bottom line and their ability to create jobs and grow their businesses," Riley said.

"We commend the strong legislative leadership of Speaker Bill Howell and the Republican House Caucus in holding the line against a policy that threatens Virginia's economic stability," she said. "We believe their thoughtful approach to evaluating Virginia's current Medicaid program to ensure that waste and fraud are eliminated is the prudent way to go."

"NFIB is confident Virginia will make the responsible choice in trying to find the right alternative," Riley said. "NFIB/Virginia will be reinforcing the strong message sent regarding the opposition to Medicaid expansion to both chambers of the Virginia Legislature and the Governor as this important debate continues."

Should an alternative be proposed, NFIB/Virginia will re-survey its members for their input, Riley said.

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