The opening of the Obamacare marketplaces isn’t the only news today that’s a BFD.
The passage of Medicaid expansion in Michigan last month was a huge victory for the nearly 500,000 uninsured who will gain coverage as a result. But the fact that the Senate passed the bill without “immediate effect” meant delaying the start of the program until 90 days after the end of the current legislative session. If the legislature doesn’t adjourn until the end of the year, the delay could cost Michigan more than $600 million.
That’s why Michigan Senate Democrats moved today to end the current legislative session. Here’s what Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer said in a release.
By immediately ending the 2013 legislative session, we can start the clock right now on the 90-day waiting period before the legislation can be implemented after Republicans foolishly denied it immediate effect when it was passed. This is our last chance to allow the law to take hold on January 1 as was intended and avoid the significant financial problem the Republicans’ recklessness has otherwise created.
Michigan’s Department of Community Health (DCH) estimated the cost of the delay at $7 million per day, or $630 million over the course of three months if the law doesn’t take effect until April 1, 2014, as currently expected. Plus, the failure to provide low-income residents with health care coverage by January 1, 2014, is likely to leave individuals and families paying penalties for not having coverage — $95 per individual and up to $285 per family. Passage of Senate Concurrent Resolution 10, introduced by Senator Whitmer today, would immediately adjourn the legislature, allowing the Medicaid expansion law to be fully implemented by January 1, 2014.
Senator Whitmer rightly compared Senate Republicans’ partisan gamesmanship to what’s been happening in Washington.
As Republicans in Washington demonstrated the heights of irresponsibility last night by shutting down the federal government, it’s clear that the Senators who voted to delay the implementation of this health care legislation were no better. Both actions put politics far ahead of progress and both will have dire consequences on our economy and our people. Republicans now have a choice to continue playing these destructive political games or to join with us, and join with the people of Michigan who want to make their government work for them once again.
Whitmer noted that should the current legislative session be ended early, Governor Rick Snyder could immediately call the legislature back to work on a special session focused on the issues that matter most to the people of Michigan. That agenda, Whitmer added, can be focused on helping our public schools, improving transportation funding and getting the people of Michigan back to work.
Ending the legislative session is a smart move — and one that’s good for Michigan. Instead of using Senate procedures to play partisan games, as the Republicans did, the Democrats are using them to do what’s right for Michigan and its citizens.