Virginia’s new governor campaigned on Medicaid expansion, but now is sending mixed signals

Months before Virginia Gov.-elect Ralph Northam rode a massive Democratic wave of progressive support into victory in November, he ran on a platform that specifically championed expanding Medicaid, which offers health insurance to low-income people.

“Together, we will move forward to expand Medicaid, so 400,000 hardworking Virginians-including 15,000 veterans who have served our country-can get the health care they deserve,” Northam says in a campaign ad that uses the speech. “Every day we don’t expand Medicaid, we’re losing $5 million dollars to surrounding states that we’re competing with.”

Medicaid expansion is a major aspect of the Affordable Care Act, but was rendered optional by a 2012 Supreme Court ruling, leading many states with Republican legislatures or governors to refuse to expand the program. One of the main talking points against expanding the program is that many “Able-bodied” people who can just get a job are on Medicaid.

Several hours later, Northam appeared to do just that, tweeting that he “Will continue to advocate for Medicaid expansion because it is a no-brainer for Virginia families, our budget, and our economy.”

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