Budget, Medicaid expansion poised for passage by Virginia Senate

One senator’s vote in a Tuesday committee meeting signaled that Medicaid expansion is poised to pass through the Senate, which has long opposed it.

State Sen. Frank Wagner’s vote didn’t sway a majority of the Senate Finance Committee, but it meant that there are now at least 21 Senate votes in favor of Medicaid expansion. The drama was heightened a few minutes after Wagner, R-Virginia Beach, broke with his party, when Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. “Tommy” Norment Jr., R-James City, blandly asked the committee to reconsider its vote.

Norment’s unusual move alarmed expansion proponents, fearing a last-minute trick to derail a budget deal hammered out by state Sen. Emmett Hanger, R-Mount Solon, and House Appropriations Committee chairman Chris Jones, R-Suffolk.

“They’re playing chess, not checkers,” said state Sen. William Stanley, R-Moneta — an opponent of Medicaid expansion — smiling slightly as he watched the action.

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