Statement from Senate Democratic Leadership
Democrats respond to House Republican accusations from morning press conference
RICHMOND – In a morning press conference today, House Republicans accused the Senate of holding up the budget in order to pass Marketplace Virginia. They called for the plan to be taken out of the budget and offered to consider it in a special session.
In response, Senate Democratic leadership issued the following statements:
Said Majority Leader Sen. Dick Saslaw (D – Fairfax), “The Senate passed a budget with bipartisan support. Both budget bills are now in conference, and we're still days away from our scheduled deadline. After years of kicking the can down the road, House Republicans need to get serious about health care for hundreds of thousands of Virginians. We’ve been consistently willing to negotiate, but we can’t reach a deal until they come to the table ready to talk about Marketplace Virginia. It's no state secret how to come to closure. House Republicans know what they need to do to settle this thing.”
Said Caucus Chair Sen. Donald McEachin (D – Henrico), “From the very beginning, House Republicans have been the party of ‘no’ on this issue. We’ve put forward a bipartisan, compromise plan that would insure up to 400,000 Virginians. They’ve put forward nothing, and they refuse to negotiate on our proposal. Those Virginians aren’t going away, which means this issue isn’t going away, either — but a special session is expensive and unnecessary. House Republicans should make a good faith effort to work with us. If they do that, I feel confident that we could reach a deal before the deadline."
Marketplace Virginia is a private-option plan that would use federal tax dollars that Virginians have already paid — and will continue to pay — to pay premium supports, enabling up to 400,000 uninsured Virginians to access private health insurance.
The plan would create roughly 30,000 jobs, restrain the growth in premiums for Virginians who already have coverage, and help to keep endangered hospitals open for business. It would also remove the need for more than $200 million per year in existing state expenses, generate an economic impact measured in the billions, and return — at minimum — $1.7 billion per year in federal funds to the Virginians who paid them.
The plan passed the Senate with bipartisan support, and the governor has signaled his support. So have many outside groups, including the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and numerous regional Chambers of Commerce. Additionally, the State Chamber has endorsed the Senate’s private option approach in principle.