RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- -

Some of the biggest health insurance companies in the country are poised to benefit from the debate over expanding Medicaid in Virginia, regardless of its outcome.

If Gov. Terry McAuliffe and the Democratically controlled Virginia Senate prevail and the state expands Medicaid eligibility to about 400,000 low-income residents, the newly insured will be provided private insurance paid for with federal funds.

Insurance companies strongly favor this option.
But even if expansion efforts fail as most Republicans want, private insurance companies will still benefit. That's because the debate over expansion has helped accelerate efforts at routing more of the state's current $8 billion a year Medicaid spending through private insurers.