Michigan legislators still unsure of vote on Medicaid expansion

As pressure mounts from both sides of the political spectrum to address Medicaid expansion in Michigan, it is uncertain whether legislators will be addressing the concern at their upcoming Wednesday session.

Before breaking for the summer, members of the Michigan Senate began debating the merits of Healthy Michigan, a Medicare expansion plan that would cover more than 400,000 Michigan residents. The plan is in reaction to President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law March 23, 2010, and upheld by the Supreme Court a little more than a year ago.

Gov. Rick Snyder continues to voice his support of the Healthy Michigan plan, which he said will reduce hospital costs from uncompensated health care in addition to expanding coverage. The plan has already been approved by the State House of Representatives, which voted 76-31 on June 10 to expand Medicaid eligibility for citizens who make up to 133 percent of the poverty line beginning in 2014, according to the governor’s office.

In an article in the Detroit Free Press, Snyder called on state senators to, “Take a vote, not a vacation.”

Even with this call to action, members of the governor’s own party have yet to embrace the plan.

Patrick Tiedt, the chief of staff for Assistant Majority Caucus Whip Darwin Booher, R-Evart, said that while the senator plans to attend the July 3 session, he is uncertain whether Booher would vote on the matter.

Booher also is a member of the Healthy Michigan Workgroup, a task force announced by Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, and headed by Sen. Roger Kahn, R-Saginaw Township. The committee was assembled to study the Medicaid legislation as well as to make suggestions on how to improve the bill, and will be meeting Wednesday to continue discussions.

But some, like U.S. Congressman Dan Kildee, D-Michigan, are pressuring Republicans to get a move on.

“This week is full of festivities as we celebrate the Fourth of July and our nation’s independence,” Kildee said in a press release. “It should also be a time where State Senate Republicans declare their independence from the Tea Party and vote to expand Medicaid in Michigan.”

Mitchell Rivard, communications director for Kildee and MSU alumnus, said Republicans have neglected their responsibilities to their constituents by delaying any form of vote in the Senate.

“Michigan residents went to work today, and they expect the same from their elected officials. State senate Republicans should return from a two-month vacation to vote tomorrow on expanding Medicaid, which is a smart, cost-saving investment that a majority of other states have already done,” Rivard said.

“As state senate Republicans continue to delay, over 400,000 Michiganders are potentially one medical emergency away from financial ruin.”

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