The stand-off continues in Richmond, but on Friday the fight over Medicaid expansion shifted to western Virginia. Governor Terry McAuliffe met with teachers, firefighters and hospital supporters during a series of visits in Roanoke and Rocky Mount.
In Roanoke, McAuliffe addressed members of the Virginia Education Association, meeting at the Roanoke Civic Center.
Erin Bull is a teacher in Montgomery County. "Medicaid expansion is morally the right thing to do," Bull told WDBJ7, "but beyond that it has financial implications that really benefit educators."
McAuliffe sat down with firefighters at Roanoke Fire EMS Station 1.
And he visited Carilion Frankllin Memorial, where administrators said the state's failure to expand Medicaid will be reflected in the hospital's bottom line.
Bill Jacobsen is the CEO of Carilion Franklin Memorial. "Without closing this gap, it's going to be very very difficult for us," Jacobsen said. "And thank goodness we have Carilion behind us, but it will be very difficult."
As of noon Friday, McAullife said the state has passed up more than 430-million dollars in federal funds, and stands to lose billions more.
"Half a billion dollars of our tax money today is going to 27 other states," McAuliffe said in an interview. "This should come back run through our economy. I can create 30-thousand jobs."
But McAuliffe also found skepticism during his visit.
Troy Keaton is a Franklin County pastor. "I understand that it's hard to say no to Christmas," Keaton said, "and this is 'I'm going to bring a lot of money to this area.' And I understand we've got to find ways to close that gap, but I just don't know that solution is sustainable."
Republican lawmakers Senator Bill Stanley and Delegate Charles Poindexter also shared their objections at a news conference Friday afternoon.
"If Barack Obama believes that his own health care proposal is not ready for prime time," Stanley told reporters, "why must the Commonwealth of Virginia rush into that burning building and expand Medicaid right now."
"We're sympathetic to the hospitals," Poindexter said. "Virginia didn't cause the problem. The ACA (Affordable Care Act) caused the problem."
McAuliffe's stop in Rocky Mount was his 18th visit to a hospital or clinic since he began his push for Medicaid expansion. And while Republican opponents aren't budging, the Governor vows his fight will continue.
Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe continued his campaign for Medicaid expansion Friday with stops in Roanoke and Rocky Mount.
McAuliffe spoke to members of the Virginia Education Association meeting at the Roanoke Civic Center. He sat down with firefighters at Roanoke's Fire Station #1. And he was scheduled to visit Carilion Franklin Memorial Hospital in Rocky Mount.
The Governor continues to call for a two-year pilot project that would extend health care benefits to up to 400,000 low-income Virginians.
Despite the continuing opposition of Republicans in the House of Delegates, McAuliffe told VEA members he will continue to fight for the plan.
"We owe it to those 400,000 Virginians to close the coverage gap, and give them the health coverage they're entitled to," he said.