In a meeting with the Daily Press editorial board Wednesday, Gov. Bob McDonnell answered questions about his proposed budget and priorities in the upcoming legislative session. He also aired his views on health care and its funding. These are some excerpts from the conversation.
Q: Is health care a priority? Your budget calls for doubling the Rainy Day fund while not giving an inflation allowance for hospitals and nursing homes providing care through Medicaid.
A: Overall, Medicaid is the largest line item. [Former Gov.] Tim Kaine didn't include an inflation allowance either. Last year we increased provider payments and gave an increase to Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters which has a large Medicaid population. … The Medicaid program is moving to more managed care for mental illness to keep costs in check.
Its numbers have exploded over the last decade. In 2014, [under the Affordable Care Act] hundreds of thousands of people will be added. It's a huge unfunded mandate without long-term federal money to provide a safety net.
Q: Where do you stand on the Affordable Care Act, federal health care reform?
A: I'm against it on the grounds that the federal government shouldn't mandate health care and it's not constitutional. … Let's start from the premise that health care is not the government's responsibility. We should be talking about wellness, about diet and exercise. There are five or six chronic diseases — we need to offer incentives for wellness.
Q: There are currently 1 million Virginians without health insurance. If the Supreme Court overturns the Affordable Care Act, how would you increase the numbers of those with health insurance?
A: I'm not sure about those numbers, that's 16 percent. I feel for them. Liability issues are driving up the costs. … We need to make it more affordable and allow insurance competition across state lines. We need to encourage a more robust insurance market. I'm also an advocate for individual medical savings accounts and letting people manage their own; it has tax advantages too. We need more affordable catastrophic plans.
Q: You just signed the new "emergency" regulations for abortion clinics. A "personhood" bill will be introduced in this General Assembly session. If it passes, will you sign it?
A: They're emergency regulations. There'll be a year or 18 months before the next ones. There'll be time for more public input. The General Assembly passed it and the Board of Health, which includes Kaine appointees, passed it 12 to 1. Most outpatient clinics have that same degree of regulation.
I'm not familiar with the details of the [personhood] bill and haven't made any decisions. There might be a constitutional issue with that in the Supreme Court as it has been ruling.
In my faith-informed view, life begins at conception. In the past, I supported parental notification and a waiting period.
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