Michigan Democrats, Michigan Republicans — July 1, 2013 at 8:39 am

Actions speak louder than words on Michigan Medicaid expansion


Democrats urge a vote while Senate Republicans want more time to debate. Talk is cheap.

Michigan Senate Democrats want action on Medicaid expansion and they want it now. They’ve challenged Senate Republicans to hold a vote on July 3 and a rallying cry from Democrats and healthcare advocates has been sent out to the public. Details on joining the call to mobilize are below.

The response from Senate Republicans so far? “We’re not ready.” They’ve had a full year to think about Medicaid expansion. Apparently, they put off doing their homework until the night before the big exam. Plus, they apparently have an aversion to taking a simple up-or-down vote. Perhaps they’re afraid they’d lose the vote and the bill in support of Obamacare — I mean, Medicaid expansion — would pass.

Michigan House Democrats and many of their Republican colleagues took action on Medicaid expansion by passing a bill that would seem agreeable to everyone. Michigan gets the federal funding for Medicaid expansion, but recipients must share some of the responsibility for the costs and their own wellness. Individual responsibility! Republicans love that.

But Senate Republicans just can’t seem to make up their minds, even in the face of undeniable facts from independent, nonpartisan and nonpolitical sources. I’ve repeated them so many times these stats are burned into my eyes: $1 billion in funding, plus $2 billion in revenue and 18,000 jobs created by 2016. You can review the details here. Oh, and lives are at stake, because states that reject Medicaid expansion are likely to see increased mortality rates.

You can also read some excellent points made in a Kalamazoo Gazette editorial, which blasts Michigan Senate Republicans’ “bogus arguments” against Medicaid expansion. By all means, read the entire article, but here are some of the key points on the benefits of Medicaid expansion:

It would address the problem of uncompensated medical care: Right now, Michigan hospitals provide about $880 million a year in care to patients who can’t pay, costs that end up getting absorbed by taxpayers and those who do have insurance. It is estimated that up to $1,000 of health-care premiums for a family of four is a “hidden tax” to cover uncompensated care.

It will help the state budget: Gov. Rick Snyder has identified almost $300 million in annual health-care spending by the state that would be shifted to the federal government via the Medicaid expansion.

The editorial also punches giant holes in Senate Republicans’ arguments against Medicaid expansion, such as the false claim that it will cut into the education budget:

That is a totally bogus argument, one that completely ignores an analysis by the Senate Fiscal Agency, a nonpartisan arm of the Republican-dominated Legislature.

‘Even in the worst-case scenario, the proposed expansion of Medicaid would result in large GF/GP (state general fund and general program) savings during the first five years with the net GF/GP costs from January 2013 onward not exceeding savings until the 10th year of the expansion,’ the analysis reads.

‘… As the SFA has stated more than once, the decision on whether to approve the Medicaid expansion will be a matter of policy, not fiscal impact,’ the analysis concludes.

But Michigan Senate Republicans apparently don’t think these are reasons enough to pass Medicaid expansion. They’ve formed a workgroup that will begin work this week on Michigan Medicaid expansion. Let me repeat that: They will begin work this week. What on earth have they been doing all this time?

According to an article on MichiganRadio.org, Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville says he generally supports the idea of Medicaid overhaul and expansion, and plans a vote in the full Senate before September. But first, the workgroup — which reportedly will add some Democrats to its previously all-Republican committee — wants to discuss further reforms to Medicaid.

If Senate Republicans want Medicaid reform, they can take that up later. But right now, they’re putting Michigan’s Medicaid expansion funding at risk. The bill passed by the House must be approved by the federal government. That process could take months and Medicaid expansion kicks in on January 1, 2014.

The time for debate is over. The time for action is now.

ACTION: There are a number of ways you can let Senate Republicans know you want them to vote and move forward in support of Medicaid expansion.

  • Michigan Senate Democrats are holding a rally at the Lansing Capitol on July 3 at 9 a.m. Get the details HERE.
  • The Michigan Nurses Association is holding a press event to show their support for Medicaid Expansion on the Lansing Capitol steps on July 3 at 11:00 a.m. While you’re in Lansing, you can show your support.
  • U.S. Congressman Dan Kildee created a petition urging Michigan Senate Republicans to return to work, put leadership over partisanship and vote on Medicaid expansion. You can sign the petition HERE.
  • Michigan Universal Health Care Access Network (MICHUHCAN) created a petition they want to deliver to the Senate before July 3. Sign the petition HERE.

Take action. You’ll be one step ahead of Michigan Senate Republicans.

[Image credit: Meme created by Class War Kitteh]