Medicaid Expansion Battle in Michigan Results in Snyder Victory!

Medicaid expansion battle in Michigan results in passage.

Tuesday, Republican governor Rick Snyder swayed just enough conservative senators in the State Legislature to accept the expansion, which was a part of President Obama’s health care law.

Despite falling one vote short initially, Mr. Snyder’s preferred bill was salvaged after months of lobbying. The vote in the Republican-controlled Senate was 20 to 18, with only 8 Republicans in favor. The Michigan House will need to once more vote and approve the Senate version before Snyder can sign the bill.

(Related: Medicaid Expansion Will Save the State Money, Snyder Says)

“The Affordable Care Act has probably been one of the most divisive issues that our country has faced in the last few years, and many people do have strong opinions both for and against,” Mr. Snyder said after the vote. “I just ask that all Michiganders step back and look to say this isn’t about the Affordable Care Act. This is about one element that we control here in Michigan that we can make a difference in here in people’s lives.”

In 2012 the Supreme Court gave the states the option opt out of Medicaid expansion, resulting in a struggle in the states along partisan lines. Gov. Snyder wasn’t the only Republican governor who found himself opposing his own party’s legislative caucuses in state capitals like Lansing, that are a Republican majority.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, like Snyder, experienced great opposition from some lawmakers, but expansion was eventually approved. However, despite Gov. Rick Scott’s best effort legislators in Florida have resisted expansion, and the same goes for Gov. John R. Kasich’s push for expansion in Ohio.

(Related: Medicare Does Not Pay for Long-Term Care)

The debate grew heated on the floor of the Michigan Senate Tuesday, though lawmakers said the discussions had been even more intense behind closed doors. Advocates praised the measure for its fiscal sensibility, considering the promise of federal money, and imperative for thousands of low-income residents without insurance.

Currently, Medicaid covers more than 1.8 million people in Michigan, officials said, and the expansion would grant coverage to more than 400,000 more. Those making up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level — or about $15,500 a year for a single person — would now be covered.

“It’s a benefit to every person in the state of Michigan,” said State Senator Gretchen Whitmer, the Democratic leader, said on the floor. “It’s good public policy, and it makes good fiscal sense.”

Republican Senator Roger Kahn told his colleagues, “This is not Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act.” On the contrary, the measure will reform the costs of medicine across the state and serve as “a national model” for other states.

Opponents claimed that Medicaid expansion would imply tacit approval of Obama’s health care law. They said it would encourage big government and irresponsibly promise Michigan’s spending for years ahead.

(Related: Long-Term-Care Insurance Dilemma)

Senator Patrick J. Colbeck, another Republican who opposes expansion, said, “We’re spending money we do not have,” adding, “And we’re forcing decisions right now onto our youth.”

“We firmly believe that a vote to support Medicaid expansion is a vote to support the president’s health care law,” said opponent Annie Patnaude, deputy state director of Americans for Prosperity-Michigan..

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