Virginia will put itself in a perilous position financially if it opts to expand Medicaid, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli said Friday.
"The numbers in Virginia, when you go out a few years, are enormous," Cuccinelli said in an appearance on MSNBC's "Andrea Mitchell Reports."
"People need to understand that … this has been the biggest, fastest growing monster in our budget," Cuccinelli said. "It's eating everything else up, transportation, education, everything else, and taxation."
Cuccinelli filed suit against the federal health care overhaul on the day President Barack Obama signed it.
Gov. Bob McDonnell said in a letter to legislators on Tuesday that it is too early to make decisions on expanding Medicaid or creating a state-run health benefits exchange because too many questions remain unanswered.
But the governor was clearly wary about Virginia opting in and expanding Medicaid. Even with the federal government promising to foot all of the bill in the early years, McDonnell said the expansion would cost Virginia at least $2.2 billion over 10 years, an estimate that he said might be outdated.
The expansion of Medicaid would cover more than 425,000 Virginians — almost half of those who lack any health insurance now. The federal government would pay all of the cost of expanded coverage for three years and then gradually reduce the federal share to 90 percent in 2020.
On Thursday, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, Cuccinelli's rival for the GOP gubernatorial nomination, called on McDonnell and legislators to reject the Medicaid expansion. He noted that the cost of administering the Medicaid program has increased by more than 80 percent from 2002 to 2011.
"The people promising to put that money in, the federal government, they're broke," Cuccinelli said Friday. "They've never been broker."
"Once we decide to get in, we're stuck in there," he added. "There's nothing the Supreme Court did to say that we can get out. We need federal permission to get out once that happens."
Within three or four years, the state's portion of the Medicaid expansion goes up into the hundreds of millions of dollars, Cuccinelli said.
Given the pressure on the state's retirement system and the other strains on Virginia's budget, "looking ahead, there's no easy answer to where that money would come from" for the Medicaid expansion.