McAuliffe Accepts Economic Plan, Urges Business Leaders to Push for Obamacare Expansion
– November 24, 2013 7:00 am
WILLIAMSBURG, Va. – Gov.-Elect Terry McAuliffe wants Virginia business leaders to put pressure on state legislators to expand Medicaid across the commonwealth.
At meeting with the Virginia Chamber of Commerce and hundreds of state business leaders in Williamsburg on Wednesday, McAuilffe alluded to his priorities for the upcoming General Assembly session starting in January.
“If Medicaid expansion is not the business community’s number one priority in your communication with the General Assembly, let me be clear – it will not happen,” said McAuliffe.
Officials in Richmond this year created the Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission – a panel of Democrats and Republicans from Virginia’s Senate and House of Delegates – that have taken public comment on Medicaid, known as Obamacare, expansion and will ultimately make a recommendation to expand it throughout the state.
Growing the healthcare program in Virginia was a key talking point in McAuliffe’s campaign for governor. His comments come as the state’s Chamber of Commerce presented McAuliffe with “Blueprint Virginia,” an economic road map to help guide the incoming governor for his next four-year term. McAuliffe accepted the plan and said he plans to spend the next four years focusing on the state’s economy.
A year in the making, the “Blueprint” commission worked with more than 2,500 business and community leaders from across the state to form a baseline assessment and identify priorities for the state, according to the report’s summary.
The report calls for reforming and expanding Medicaid across the state “to help reduce cost shifting onto insured patients and employers for the cost of treating the uninsured.” There is also emphasis on embracing Virginia’s community colleges as a highly utilized gateway to post-secondary education, and for science, technology, and math education (STEM) programs to be more aligned with regional needs.
The report also calls lowering taxes for manufacturers to attract new industry to Virginia.
“We want Virginia to be the choice for manufactures when they start thinking about manufacturing in America, and we can do that with the right tax structure, the right regulatory structure, energy structure, and focusing on this as a priority for our economic development going forward,” said Virginia Chamber of Commerce President Barry DuVal.
Several transportation improvements were called for, including widening Interstate 81, improve Virginia’s ports as a result of an expansion of the Panama Canal, invest in high-speed rail between Washington, Richmond, and Hampton Roads, and to increase highway capacity in Northern Virginia. The report does call for increasing access to Dulles International Airport but the summary does not reference the controversial Bi-County Parkway, a highway that would link the airport with I-95 via Va. 234 in Prince William County.
With all of the planning in place, the state now has to face some economic realities in the coming years. At least 330,000 jobs in the state are tied to defense spending – everything from cyber security to shoe making. And, as the federal government eyes potential cuts and possibly another round of military base realignment and closures, or BRAC, the state that has been so reliant on federal spending may have to diversify its business portfolio.
“We’re going to have to start working harder to secure our economy. Over the past 20 years we have had a lot of it fall into our lap because of Uncle Sam,” said Dr. Steven Fuller, of the Center of Regional Analysis at George Mason University.
Locally, representatives from the Flory Small Business Center, Micron Technology, Germanna and Northern Virginia community colleges, Mary Washington University, the Northern Virginia Technology Council, and the Prince William Chamber of Commerce all participated in writing “Blueprint Virginia.”