SENATE PASSES BIPARTISAN BUDGET CONTAINING MARKETPLACE VIRGINIA

This afternoon, the full Senate passed a bipartisan budget containing Marketplace Virginia, the compromise “private option” designed to close the health care coverage gap and enable up to 400,000 uninsured Virginians to access care. The budget passed on a vote of 22 –15, with three Republicans joining all Democrats in support.

Said Majority Leader Sen. Dick Saslaw (D – Fairfax), “Using the framework of Gov. McDonnell’s proposed budget, with amendments from Gov. McAuliffe and the Senate, we have sent a bipartisan budget bill to the House — a budget bill that contains a 2% raise for public employees and school teachers, and addresses Line of Duty for our first responders. It provides a pathway for accessing health care for hundreds of thousands of Virginians, and takes them out of our emergency rooms. House Republicans owe Virginia more than ‘Just Say No.’ ”

Said Caucus Chair Sen. Donald McEachin (D – Henrico), “There are 400,000 good reasons to close the coverage gap. Our friends and neighbors pay the price each and every day we fail to act — and all Virginians are counting on us to pass a budget. House Republicans need to stop playing political games, come to the table, and help us move Virginia forward by passing the Senate budget.”

Said Sen. Barbara Favola (D – Arlington), “Marketplace Virginia will prevent hundreds of needless deaths every year. It will enable countless uninsured Virginians — most from working families — to access care. It will keep our hospitals open, hold down costs for those with insurance, and save money for both taxpayers and the state. With so much at stake, I don’t understand why House Republicans keep choosing to stand in the way.”

Said Sen. Louise Lucas (D – Portsmouth), “The Senate has compromised again and again, but House Republicans have refused to come to the table. They’ve put partisan ideology ahead of the needs of hundreds of thousands of uninsured Virginians — and ahead of the needs of the taxpayers, policyholders, businesses, and hospitals who all share in the cost of their care. We can’t govern if the other side won’t negotiate. That’s not how democracy works.”

The Senate budget retains several important amendments from the McAuliffe budget that the House summarily rejected, including a 2% pay raise for public employees; up to $17 million in subsidies to localities for Line of Duty Act-covered employees; and up to $7.1 million in new funding for land conservation efforts. As compared to the previous Senate budget, the new budget contains an extra $52 million in direct aid to public education.

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