Snyder, legislators react to controversial Medicaid expansion bill passed in Senate
At first it failed, but then it passed.
In a monumental vote, the plan that would extend healthcare to hundreds of thousands of uninsured Michigan residents passed the Senate after being initially shot down.
“Healthy Michigan is an opportunity for all of Michigan to benefit (from),” Gov. Rick Snyder said in a press conference after the vote. “It’s about helping 470,000 Michiganders have a better life.
“Now we’re gonna have an opportunity, hopefully, with the House passage, to move forward in terms of taking care of many hundreds of thousands of Michiganders,” Snyder continued.
But it’s not over yet.
While Snyder is hopeful the House will pass the expansion, it could still fail, forcing the Senate back to the drawing board.
With an air of melodrama, Snyder said if the expansion doesn’t become law, the issue “could be a matter of life and death for Michiganders.”
One aspect of the bill that higher education advocates are particularly excited about is the extra funds that will be leveraged through the Affordable Care Act, as services paid for by the state are covered by the federal government. More than $100,000 a year in state funding could then be spent on other programs, which some advocates hope will go toward higher education.
When asked if he would support spending any of the funds on higher education – which would bring tuition rates down – Snyder seemed reluctant to answer.
“The thing we should dwell on here is not just the budget piece for our state budget, which is a positive, but the fact we can help healthcare costs throughout all of Michigan.”
Supporters in the Capitol and advocates from the medical and business communities alike praised the bill’s passage and remain hopeful it will make it through the House.
“We know we all pay for uncompensated care in this state. But with this expansion, 320,000 people will be covered in the first year; 470,000 by 2020,” said Sen. Gretchen Whitmer, D-East Lansing. “Our uninsured population will drop by 46 percent.”
Sen. Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton, gave a passionate speech about why the expansion and the Affordable Care Act would hurt Michigan and limit freedom, even sighing in frustration while making his statements.
Earlier in the afternoon, dozens of demonstrators chanted in the rotunda of the Capitol, calling for lawmakers to vote, 10 of which were escorted out of the balcony for doing the same in the Senate Hall.
Among the demonstrators were two activists who wished to be known as Freedom Frank and Patriot Pat.
They joined the fray downstairs, donning 18th century revolutionary garb and a broken tea kettle while yelling for “freedom.” Prior to that, they had also been escorted from the balcony for demonstrating in the Senate Hall.