Michigan Republicans, Republican-Fail, Rick Snyder — March 20, 2013 at 2:23 pm

Michigan GOP bows to tea party pressure, Medicaid expansion & state run health insurance exchange all but dead


You have to give them credit for taking government back — to a time when it didn’t care about the poor

Tea party groups in Michigan appear to have succeeded in preventing an expansion of Medicaid that would have given health insurance to nearly a half million working poor Michiganders and preventing the formation of a state-run health insurance exchange. The actions will cost the state millions and millions of dollars, ensure that fewer people have health coverage than would have under the provisions of the Affordable Care Act and, ironically, help take the country a step closer to a single-payer health care system in the long run.

On Wednesday, the House Appropriations subcommittee passed their annual budget bill without the inclusion of the expansion of Medicaid that Governor Snyder, doctors, and hospitals across the state supported emphatically. Even tea party governors like Florida’s Rick Scott support this element of “Obamacare” since it would mean coverage of millions of their residents while relieving the burden on their hospital systems. They also kicked poor people in the teeth in a couple of other ways, as well:

The Appropriations subcommittee handling the Department of Community Health budget passed the funding document without the Medicaid expansion, as well as other Snyder proposals, including: dental services for low income children, health and wellness initiatives, mental health and substance abuse services for veterans and an infant mortality program.

The federally-funded Medicaid expansion would pay 100% of the costs through 2017. The federal support would ratchet down to 90% by 2020.

The governor’s proposed budget included $181.7 million coming in from the federal government for the expansion. That revenue stream was removed from the DCH budget with the committee’s 6-2 vote to approve the budget.

It’s difficult to understate how short-sighted a move this is. The long term effects on our state budget will be to increase medical costs for the state as fewer people get the necessary medical and dental attention they need and tax our health care system even more. As an added bonus, babies, children, and military veterans will suffer.

All things considered, it’s a Republican health care dream come true.

The state Senate has tomorrow and Friday left to vote on setting up the state-run health insurance exchange before they go on spring break. Governor Snyder has warned that it must happen this week but this, too, is looking increasing unlikely to happen. Deluded Republicans believe they have more time, apparently thinking they know more than the governor who has been in communication with the Obama administration on the issue. Tea party pressure has been cited as the cause of GOP reticence.

Meanwhile, Governor Snyder is quoted in today’s Detroit Free Press as saying that his approach is one that should be a model for Republicans at the federal level on immigration and other issues. The following quote appears to have been uttered by Governor Snyder with a straight face:

I’ve always believed in reaching out to different coalitions and groups and getting them in engaged in a positive discussion and learning what their issues are. It’s about bringing people together, not being divisive…It’s about staying focused on solving problems and doing the right thing.

When it comes to doing the right thing, Michigan Republicans have completely missed the mark with regard to Medicaid expansion. Given that an efficiently-run national health insurance exchange is a very big step toward a national single-payer health care system in the long run, I have to say they are doing the right thing by allowing the federal government to handle it for us.

So, yes, they’re doing the right thing with regard to the exchange, but they’re doing it for all the wrong reasons.

[Photos by Chris Savage | Eclectablog]