Forward momentum and signs of compromise are promising.
Supporters of Medicaid expansion — which is pretty much everyone except the Tea Party and staunch conservatives, by most accounts — will be happy to hear some positive news.
The House Michigan Competitiveness committee voted 9-5 to approve a Medicaid expansion bill, according to an article in the Detroit Free Press. Opponents and supporters were advocating strongly leading up to Wednesday’s vote.
The efforts of pro-Medicaid expansion activists like the Michigan Nurses Association are having a positive impact. State Rep. Mike Shirkey (R-Clark Lake) and chairman of the committee, was quoted in the Detroit Free Press on his change of heart:
I was a hard no to begin with. I had to look at what would happen in the state if we did nothing with things like the growing problem of uncompensated care.
A vote in the House could come as early as Thursday on this new version of a bill that originally called for a 48-month limit on eligibility for “able-bodied” adults. The revised bill drops that limit, but requires recipients who fall within 100 percent to 133 percent of the federal poverty level to contribute 5 percent of their out-of-pocket medical costs. After 48 months, recipients could opt to buy insurance on the healthcare exchange created by Obamacare or pay a 7 percent co-pay to stay on Medicaid. People living with chronic conditions or mental illness, or who can’t participate in routine daily activities, could remain at the 5 percent co-pay level.
Although this might make Medicaid less feasible for some, a compromise is better than no Medicaid expansion in Michigan at all, considering its many benefits to the state and its residents.
According to the Detroit Free Press, Michigan Department of Community Health director Jim Haveman said he’s confident the federal government will approve the plan.
If the bill passes the House it then goes to the Senate for a vote, where it might face tougher opposition. Governor Rick Snyder has said all along he’d like to see Medicaid expansion pass before the legislature’s summer recess begins at the end of next week.
The fight’s not over yet, but the good guys are gaining ground. The Tea Party of West Michigan is up in arms, having emailed its supporters immediately after the vote urging them to call every member of the House to urge a “no” vote.
The way I see it, this means they’re worried. Good.
But this is no time to be complacent. Democrats overwhelmingly support Medicaid expansion, so focus on your Republican legislators. Even if you already have, contact them again and continue urging them to vote YES on Medicaid expansion.