A mender of broken bones salves Medicaid expansion

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — After a career mending bones, Dr. Bill Hazel finds himself in a much tougher business: guiding jittery Virginia policymakers through a politically and financially perilous expansion of Medicaid.

Achieving the federally prescribed expansion for up to 400,000 Virginians just above the poverty level is no sure thing. Virginia Democrats are pushing hard for it and Republicans say it won't happen without fundamental cost-saving reforms.

Hazel was a top orthopedic surgeon before he put aside the scalpel three years ago to shepherd health policy for Gov. Bob McDonnell.

His impartial and expert counsel last week gave feuding Senate Democrats and some Republicans enough confidence to unite behind a tenuous Medicaid expansion road map.

One Democrat says if Virginia elects a Democratic governor this fall, he'll urge him to keep Hazel.

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