Wednesday I attended the opening session of the General Assembly that was convened on the request of the Governor to consider the biennial budget, which did not get completed, when the recent General Assembly closed in March. Yesterday, it was only pro forma to organize.

The main object of the reconvening of the General Assembly will be to deal with the great difference between the House and the Senate in their budget, which primarily focused on the Medicaid Expansion. While two senators – Hanger and Wagner – have indicated recently publicly that they are supportive with  certain conditions, it remains still a great uncertainty if this will be resolved.

I spoke with Senate Minority Leader, Sen. Sasslaw, about this especially in regard to his friend, Sen. Norment. His comment was, ” I just don’t understand his position and resistance.”

Recently, we sent up a delegation of four to Sen. Norment’s office with over 600 signatures to the petition for Medicaid Expansion. As part of his response he said that,  “that there was going to be cuts in Medicare and Medicaid and the monies will not be there for Medicaid expansion in Virginia.” This is in reference to a supposed call that he made to an unnamed official at the federal level in the Department of Health and Human Services.

I have sent requests to our two U.S. Senators to respond to my question about  clarity on this matter. Rumors come and go in D.C. The Affordable Care Act is still the law of the land and our taxes are still there to return money to states for the Medicaid expansion. So until we hear otherwise, Sen. Norment’s  comments are smoke and mirrors. We must continue hard on the march to our goal of including Medicaid expansion in the state budget.

Next week there will be more deliberations on House bills that are coming up to included even more stringent work requirements coming out of an Arkansas model, apparently.

We ask that you read, study, write articles, march, and continue sending petitions to the state Senators. I have also asked our supporting local legislators for advice. Do not let up! Keep the faith. This is a moral imperative!

VICPP’s James River Chapters members will be at Sen. Norment’s office at 4801 Courthouse St. Williamsburg 23188, on Tuesdays through Fridays from 12:30 – 1:30 p.m. and on Mondays from 9-10 a.m. You can join us.

Thank you and bless you for your efforts,

-Rev. Charles Swadley

Rev. Swadley is a former director for the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy

Pictured, top, from left, are John Gregoire, Rev. Reggie Davis, Sen. Norment, Shannon Wolosynkowski and Diane Langhorst. 

Below, Rev. Swadley and Dr. John Whitley protest outside Sen. Norment’s office.