GOOCHLAND COUNTY, Va (WTVR) - The government shutdown and its connection to the Affordable Care Act was front and center for local business leaders Thursday who met with Virginia Attorney General and Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli.
Cuccinelli held the roundtable to discuss the health care law's impact on business. Online health care exchanges, as a part of the Affordable Care Act, opened Tuesday.
Two main concerns were clear from most who attended:
- Uncertainty over health care costs when the law takes full effect
- Confusion from employees over whether they qualify
Cuccinelli mostly listened and asked questions; however, he did take the opportunity to draw on the difference between him and his opponent, Democrat Terry McAuliffe.
Under the Affordable Care Act, states can choose to opt out of expanding Medicaid, a federal/state funded program that pays for health coverage for the poor.
Cuccinelli opposes Medicaid expansion and doubts the federal government would be able to pay for their part. In contrast, McAuliffe has said he believes Medicaid expansion would provide health coverage for more than 400,000 needy Virginians.
"I have an opponent who said he wouldn't sign a Virginia budget if it didn't have what he wanted," said Cuccinelli about his opponent's view on Medicaid expansion.
Cuccinelli cited the current government shutdown as an example of what McAuliffe would do in Virginia. "You all are asking me about the House Republicans, he has said the exact opposite from a party stand point, but here over Virginia government," said Cuccinelli.
Thursday morning, Virginia Democrats weighed in the Affordable Care Act as well. Specifically, how it pertains to the gubernatorial race.
Democrats have said Virginians made their stance clear by re-electing President Obama, even after his signature health care legislation was signed into law.
Prior to Thursday's meeting, Virginia Democrats called on Cuccinelli to make his stance clear about how Congress even got to the point of a shutdown.
"He has said, nobody wants a government shut down, and maybe he's right about that. But he hasn't said the Tea Party was wrong in shutting down the government," said Brian Coy with the Democratic party of Virginia. "[Cuccinelli] hasn't said [Congress] should pass a clean continuing resolution and put Virginian's back to work; and drop these ideological battles."
Following Thursday's meeting, Cuccinelli told reporters he would handle the budget battle on Capitol Hill differently than some of his GOP counterparts.