Governor Terry McAuliffe has set up a process to expand Medicaid all on his own, but is that legal? The answer to that question depends on who you ask. Some healthcare advocates say there is a separation of power and the Governor has every right to put his executive powers in gear. On the other hand, some are asking - to what extent?
It's a priority Governor Terry McAullife is fighting to see through - even without the support of the legislative branch.
"Without this insurance, we will continue to see patients that die," said Linda Wilkinson with the Virginia Association of Free Clinics.
She says too often, lack of healthcare access results in severe consequences. 56,000 of her clinics' patients do not qualify for Medicaid -- they don't meet the guidelines even though they fall at or below the poverty level. She says expanding Medicaid would give them a fighting chance.
"Everyone single one of our 60 member clinics has an example of a patient whose health deteriorated because of a lack of insurance because they waited perhaps because they have no money, so they waited to go to the emergency room until they already had stage 4 breast cancer for example," Wilkinson explained.
But the General Assembly passed a budget that makes it impossible for the expansion without its approval. Friday, the Governor announced he's poised to flex his political muscle.
"There are some legal questions as to the right of a Governor to veto certain items in the budget. Democrats and Republicans have fought over that before, gone to court over that before," said political activist Paul Goldman.
Republicans have vowed to do so again. Those are efforts political activist Paul Goldman says are better served keeping Virginia's government functioning.
"Courts don't really like to go into what they call the political thicket. So they could just kick the can down the road and not get into it. However I suspect they will make a decision here. It will be argued by the best lawyers in the state and the Governor has to suspect that he might lose. That's a big risk for him," Goldman said.
If this issue heads to court, there's also the chance McAuliffe could come out on top, but rest assured, the political fighting would continue. Goldman says that could very well irritate the public with so much attention focused on just one of numerous issues that impact Virginians.
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