Another Republican is calling on the state Senate to pass Medicaid expansion in Michigan.
The expansion would provide health insurance to hundreds of thousands of Michigangers and would be paid for by the federal government under the Affordable Care Act in the first two years (federal funds would cover 95% to 90% of the cost in subsequent years).
The Medicaid expansion plan has the backing of Gov. Snyder and some traditional Republican stalwarts, such as the Small Business Association of Michigan and the Michigan Chamber of Commerce.
Add one former Republican state House Speaker to that list.
Former House Speaker Rick Johnson writes in a column for MLive today that he has "watched in dismay" as the state Senate fails to take up a vote on expanding Medicaid in Michigan:
There are plenty of reasons to dislike the Affordable Care Act. I have a few of my own. But the law is on the books. To think we’re going to make it go away by ignoring it is a head-in-the-sand approach to public policy that will only hurt the citizens of Michigan.
If Healthy Michigan is not enacted, the state will lose federal funding. The uncompensated care costs that hospitals bear will continue to climb, hurting all of us.
State Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville has formed a "workgroup" to study Medicaid expansion further.
Gov. Rick Snyder has argued time is running short to set the program up. Scott Davis of Gannett explains why:
Many things must happen for any sort of Medicaid expansion to begin in Michigan by early next year.
The Senate workgroup must recommend its own plan for reforming Medicaid in coming weeks, the Republican-controlled Senate must approve it, and the Republican-controlled House, which already has approved its own plan, must then sign off on the Senate version. All this must somehow occur when the Legislature is mostly on summer break through the end of August, and renovations in both chambers could hinder a special session from being called.
Once those hoops are jumped, the plan then needs the blessing of Uncle Sam.
Since the Legislature is proposing an alternative Medicaid expansion plan under the Affordable Care Act, Davis reports the plan will have to go through a 90-day federal review process.
That means even if the Legislature agreed this week on a reform version of Medicaid, Michigan would be two weeks behind in enrolling participants once the federal review is over in mid-October.
Tea Party activists have vowed that Michigan politicians who vote for the expansion will pay a political price. The Michigan Chapter of the group "American's for Prosperity" calls the proposed Medicaid expansion "inhumane."
So far, 21 states in the U.S. are not planning to expand Medicaid. Michigan is counted as one of six states where debate is ongoing: