Michigan Republicans — May 22, 2013 at 6:59 pm

What does the Michigan GOP have against Medicaid expansion?


It’s a one-word answer: Obamacare.

Republicans who oppose Obamacare just don’t want to say “yes” to anything related to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Medicaid expansion is part of the ACA, but the U.S. Supreme Court left the decision to accept Medicaid expansion up to the states. And Michigan is among those with Republican-controlled legislatures that are fighting against Medicaid expansion out of what seems to be pure ideology. There’s simply no other good reason to keep saying no to something that would do so much good for the state and its citizens.

Michigan Republicans dealt another blow to hopes for Medicaid expansion on Tuesday. They reached a deal with Governor Rick Snyder on what to do with the state’s nearly $702 million in newfound surplus revenue, and it doesn’t include any funding for Medicaid expansion. They did see fit, however, to put $75 million in the state’s “rainy day” fund, according to the Detroit News. (Other funds were allocated to road projects and K-12 education.)

The thing is, if you ask people living without health insurance, it’s raining cats and dogs right now. Why set aside money in a rainy day fund when people without insurance are already facing a perfect storm — living just one serious illness from financial ruin?

As I’ve written about here before, more people will become eligible for Medicaid in 2014 whether Michigan accepts the federal funds for expansion or not. That’s going to cost the state some money, which is currently not in the 2014 budget proposals from the House or Senate. The $1 billion in federal funding Medicaid expansion would bring in would offset that cost, while providing health insurance to an estimated 700,000 currently uninsured Michiganders.

The money-minded Michigan GOP also doesn’t seem interested in the estimated $2 billion in additional revenue Medicaid expansion could bring to the state, not to mention the roughly 18,000 jobs it would create by 2016.

It’s becoming increasingly clear Michigan Republicans simply don’t want to accept Medicaid expansion. As reported in the Detroit News, House Republicans have made stipulations for accepting the federal funding that are virtually guaranteed to be rejected by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Apparently, the House Republicans would prefer to “wrestle with ways to reform the Medicaid system” over the summer, as House Speaker Jase Bolger was quoted saying in yesterday’s the Detroit News.

In a press release, U.S. Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05) called on the Michigan legislature to take immediate action to expand Medicaid in Michigan.

Expanding Medicaid in Michigan is a smart, cost-saving investment that is right for Michigan. State legislators should drop the political posturing and instead act immediately to expand access to health care for hundreds of thousands of children and adults in our state. It’s a proposal that will both reduce costs for Michiganders but also save the state of Michigan over a billion dollars. It just makes sense.

Until now, Governor Snyder has repeatedly expressed his support for Medicaid expansion. It’s unclear whether the deal he reached on Tuesday with the Michigan GOP changes his previously reported determination to pursue Medicaid expansion. I contacted his office twice this week for a comment, and if he responds I’ll update this post.

In the meantime, in an exclusive interview, Michigan Senator Rebekah Warren (D-Ann Arbor) told me she found Tuesday’s budget news “disappointing” — but she’s not giving up on Medicaid expansion.

I had hoped Medicaid would be part of the budget, because this is a significant opportunity the federal government is giving us. It means savings for everyone, compared to people using the emergency room for routine care or putting off treatment until their illness is more expensive and difficult to treat. It would provide genuine preventive care access and improve not only our economy but the quality of life for our citizens who are currently uninsured. However, no one’s saying the issue is dead. I haven’t heard that from either caucus or the Governor. So I remain encouraged.

Keep letting your legislators know that Medicaid matters for Michigan.