Virginia House Republicans announce alternative to governor's mental health care program

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RICHMOND, Virginia — House Republicans are proposing a $124 million health care package for needy Virginians, including those with serious mental illness.

Del. John O'Bannon of Henrico County announced the GOP alternative to Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe's plan Thursday. He said the proposal expands services to 30,000 mentally ill Virginians, 10,000 more than the program McAuliffe established by executive order last year after Republicans blocked his Medicaid expansion plan.

O'Bannon emphasized that the GOP plan is not Medicaid expansion. He said it expands mental health treatment, nearly doubles funding for free clinics and improves access to prescription drugs.

McAuliffe spokesman Brian Coy said the governor is pleased that House Republicans recognize the need to expand care. But he said their plan is no substitute for expanding Medicaid to about 400,000 more low-income Virginians.

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