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medicaid expansion

 When this week began, it looked as if the legislature and governor had finally found a compromise formula that would allow Medicaid to be expanded to nearly half a million poor Michiganders. It also looked as if the race for the next mayor of Detroit would come down to a contest between Mike Duggan, a man of many past political jobs, and Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon.

But the week ended with the Medicaid compromise falling apart; Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr taking steps that probably moved the city closer to a bankruptcy filing, and with  Duggan tossed off the ballot and out of the mayor’s race. On the plus side for Detroit, the Ilitch family announced that a long-rumored six hundred and fifty million dollar new hockey arena would be built on the edge of downtown.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Governor Snyder has called on state Senate Republicans to return to Lansing to vote on the Medicaid expansion. If not, Snyder says he could see the pattern repeated on raising more money for roads, student performance standards, and other controversial issues. He’s already been rebuffed on creating a state-run insurance exchange. 

But the governor says he remains optimistic that there is a path to winning an expansion of Medicaid.

Gretchen Whitmer is the state Senate Democratic leader, and she supports the expansion. She says the vote never happened because too many Republicans fear a Tea Party backlash, and she expects it will happen again.

She said this signals future problems ahead with issue like infrastructure, and called the Tea Party pressure "the tail is wagging the dog."

The governor wants the Legislature to tackle road funding once a Medicaid deal is approved. He wants that done within 30 days, but the Senate is not expected to reconvene until late August. The governor says that would be too late.

Scott Hagerstrom is the Michigan director of Americans for Prosperity. He says his group won’t stop trying to block policies that could lead to a growth in the size of government.

“The governor pushes on – ‘relentless positive action’ – and it’s never really over. It’ll never be over until he’s out of office, so on that note, we’ll just have to continue to educate Michigan citizens.”

Hagerstrom says that will hold true in the future as the governor pushes for more revenue for roads or any other tax or fee hikes. He says there are some things the governor has done that conservatives like.

Hagerstrom says his group will push the Legislature to keep the governor in check.

This week on It’s Just Politics, we break down the breakdown over the Medicaid expansion. We’re thinking a bit about Mick Jagger right now (something along the lines of, “You can’t always get what you want") and Jagger might just have been singing that tune for Governor Snyder, who, yesterday, was once again denied by the Michigan Legislature. This time, by the state Senate, they left town, out-of-dodge for the summer apparently, without voting on an expansion of Medicaid.

The Medicaid expansion is the governor’s top policy objective at the moment and, so, Mr. Relentless Positive Action ain’t too happy. “I wouldn’t use the word ‘angry,’ but, obviously this is not my normal demeanor. What word you’d like to put on it, I’ll leave it to you.”

Peeved? Vexed? Splenetic. We’ll step away from the thesaurus, now, and breakdown this breakdown. First of all, Rick Snyder played a big part in creating this problem for himself. He and Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley were both missing during some critical days of these negotiations. This was the final week of session before the Legislature’s summer break and, yet, face-to-face Medicaid negotiations were delegated while the governor went on a trade trip to Israel and the lieutenant governor was on a tour of the U.P.

Both of those trips were cut short as things melted down in Lansing, but precious time was lost. There are things only a governor can promise and he has to be in the room to do it. But, the governor may have set the stage for this impasse two summers ago when he signed into law the new legislative district maps; a lot of very safe Republican seats. When you do that, you also give outsize influence to the more extreme elements of your party. No wonder you can’t get Republicans to support you, governor. That’s how you set it up.

 I don’t think we’ve ever seen Governor Rick Snyder really angry before. But he was yesterday. He’d cut a trade mission in Israel short to rush back to Lansing to try and pass the Medicaid expansion.

But while the state house of representatives did so a few days ago, the Michigan Senate refused to even take a vote despite the governor’s pleas. This means hundreds of thousands of Michiganders will remain without health care coverage.

They could have been made eligible for Medicaid without a dollar in cost to the state for a couple years. After that, Michigan would never pay more than a small fraction of the cost, and save far more than that in a variety of ways, including the benefits of a healthier workforce.  So why did the Senate refuse?

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Medicaid vote delayed

Governor Rick Snyder called out Republican state Senators for taking their summer recess before voting on Medicaid expansion.  He is requesting that lawmakers return to vote on the legislation.  Michigan Radio’s Jake Neher quotes Governor Snyder as saying “Please come do your job.  Please come take a vote.  Please come vote ‘yes.’”

School budget bill in Governor's hands

Bills allowing the state to dissolve debt-ridden school districts heads to Governor Snyder’s desk today.  They were approved yesterday by the state House, with votes following party lines.  Rick Pluta reports that this may enable the state to quickly shut down the Buena Vista and Inkster school districts. 

Bridges in need of repair

1300 bridges in Michigan have been judged unsafe in a new study from Transportation for America.  Jeff Cranson with the Michigan Department of Transportation believes that Governor Snyder’s 1.2 billion-dollar road investment bill will help fix the problem.

courtesy of Richardville's office

Governor Rick Snyder is calling on state Senate Republicans to return to Lansing.

That’s after the Senate adjourned for its summer recess without voting on a Medicaid expansion under the new federal healthcare law.

The episode left hard feelings, and dimming prospects for extending health coverage to many thousands of low-income working households.

One Tough Nerd angered by lack of action

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Governor cuts trip short

Governor Rick Snyder will return early from his trip to Israel today in order to lobby for Medicaid expansion. Snyder will encourage fellow Republicans to pass the legislation. “Today is the last day for lawmakers to pass Medicaid expansion before their two-month summer break,” reports Jake Neher.

Teachers protest education legislation

Michigan teachers rallied in Lansing yesterday to protest legislation that would allow state officials to close struggling school districts.  According to the Associated Press, “the legislation lets the state superintendent and treasurer dissolve a district with 300 to 2,400 students if certain criteria are met.”

General Motors receives high ratings

For the first time ever, General Motors topped the Initial Quality Survey released by automotive tracking firm J.D. Power.  Michigan Radio’s Tracy Samilton reports that GM received a better score than any other corporation in the study.  She says "people are reporting very few mechanical problems.  Most automakers have drummed out serious engine and transmission defects from their cars."

Matthileo / Flickr

This week in Michigan politics, Jack Lessenberry and Emily Fox discuss the state of Medicaid expansion in the Michigan Senate, Governor Snyder's trade mission to Israel, and the political future of Mike Duggan in Detroit.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Tea Party activists are threatening to put up primary challengers against Republican lawmakers who vote to expand Medicaid in Michigan.

The bill would add hundreds of thousands of Michiganders to the Medicaid rolls under the federal healthcare law.

The legislation cleared the state House last week. The state Senate is likely to take up the legislation this week.

Tea Party groups claim it would be the biggest expansion of state government in more than four decades.  They say Republican votes in favor of the bill warrant a primary challenge next year.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan business owners say they still need answers to how the Affordable Care Act will affect their businesses.

About 200 people attended a seminar on "Obamacare" today in East Lansing.

The federal health care law takes effect January 1st.  Businesses with more than 50 employees will have to provide health care insurance to their employees or pay a penalty.

Ed Harden is the VP of Sales for McLaren Health Plan. He says business owners have just one question for him, “How much is this going to cost?”

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Governor Rick Snyder’s administration is working to wrap up a deal with the Legislature this week to extend Medicaid coverage to thousands more low-income families in Michigan. Republicans remain divided on the proposal.

It took a bipartisan vote of Republicans and Democrats to get the expansion through the state House last week and it will take a similar coalition to get the bill approved this week by the state Senate.

The Michigan House of Representatives in Lansing
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio file photo

This week in review, Rina Miller and Jack Lessenberry discuss the highlights of the Michigan’s budget, whether Michigan’s Medicaid program will be getting an expansion, and whether the Detroit Institute of Arts will be forced to sell some of its collection in order to pay off the city’s debts.

Michigan’s budget

The state budget is on time for the third year in a row, but it is not finished.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

It’s Thursday, the day we talk Michigan politics with Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service. On tap today, the latest happenings around the Medicaid expansion bill; developments in Detroit about whether the selection of the city's emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, was in conflict with the Opening Meetings Act; and possible bankruptcy proceedings in the city. 

Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

For a lot of uninsured families in Michigan, this is a big week.

Lawmakers in Lansing are sloooowly moving ahead with expanding the state’s Medicaid program.

That would give another 470,000 Michiganders coverage.

So who exactly are we talking about here?

The morning I meet Jen and Todd Nagle, we have no clue the day will end with Todd being rushed to the doctor for chest pains.

The Michigan House of Representatives in Lansing
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio file photo

State lawmakers are moving forward with a plan to expand Medicaid in Michigan after months of debate. A state House panel approved the measure yesterday, and the full House is expected to vote on it today.

Republicans on the committee were split on the legislation. Many said they were not willing to support legislation that would further entrench the federal Affordable Care Act in Michigan. 

The federal government says it’ll foot the entire bill for Medicaid expansion through 2016, and at least 90 percent after that.

Several months ago, the federal government offered the states, including Michigan, a deal that sounded almost too good to be true. Washington offered to expand Medicaid coverage to citizens earning up to a third more than the official poverty level.

We aren’t talking rich people. Currently, poverty is officially defined as an annual income of $23,550 for a family of four. Those making that amount or less are eligible for Medicaid. But with the requirement that people buy health insurance about to kick in, Washington offered to increase eligibility to a family making as much as $31,300 a year. This is a figure that changes with inflation, and which varies based on family size.

What would that mean for Michigan? Well, within a few years, nearly half a million people who now have no health care would be covered. Initially the state would pay nothing.

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Medicaid goes to House floor

Yesterday, the Michigan House Competitiveness Committee voted to send the Medicaid expansion bill to the floor. Michigan Radio's Jake Neher reports that while Republicans were split on the issue, “Democrats on the panel all voted in favor of the bill. That’s after lawmakers dropped a controversial plan to limit able-bodied adults to four years on Medicaid. But they say they’re still concerned about language that would raise premiums and co-pays for some patients after four years.”

Questions for Governor about Detroit's emergency manager

Concerns have been raised about Governor Rick Snyder’s process in selecting Kevyn Orr as Detroit’s emergency manager. Rick Pluta reports that “a judge says Governor Rick Snyder’s office must turn over e-mails and other records related to the candidate search for a Detroit emergency manager. The judge’s order is related to a lawsuit that alleges Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr was hired illegally. The lawsuit claims the process was rigged and carried out in violation of Michigan’s open meetings law.”

Heroin incidents on the rise in Michigan

A rash of heroin overdoses occurred in Washtenaw County last week, and incidents are on the rise across parts of the state. “Authorities say a particularly toxic heroin mix known by some on the street as ‘black shadow’ appears to be circulating in southeast Michigan communities, causing a rise in overdoses and at least one death this month,” report Robin Erb and Tammy Stables Battaglia of the Detroit Free Press.

cncphotos / flickr

This week in Michigan politics, Jack Lessenberry and Kyle Norris discuss Medicaid expansion in Michigan, immigration reform and how it could affect struggling Michigan cities, and the race for Senator Carl Levin’s seat in the U.S. Senate.

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Farm Bill moves to U.S. House

The Michigan Farm Bureau is glad to see Congress is making progress on passing Senator Debbie Stabenow's farm bill. The U.S. Senate approved nearly a trillion dollars in support for food assistance, crop insurance and other programs this week.  Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody reports, "the U.S. House is still wrestling with its version of the bill."

Tea Party activists will sit out of governor's race

An open letter to Governor Rick Snyder released by a group of prominent Tea Party activists calls on their party to sit out next year's race for governor. They call for Snyder to change his position on Medicaid expansion. Tea Party group "Grassroots in Michigan" says Snyder is bucking the Republican platform by cooperating with the new federal healthcare law.

Duggan is out of the Detroit Mayoral race

A Wayne County judge has kicked Mike Duggan off of the ballot for Detroit Mayor. When Duggan filed for a mayoral run a month before the deadline, he didn't meet a city rule that requires candidates to be registered voters in Detroit a full year before filing.  But he did meet the rule by the filing deadline date.  Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton reports, "Duggan says he's reviewing his legal options."

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan's largest nurses union is in Lansing today lobbying for Medicaid expansion.

The issue has been locked in a political debate at the state capitol for months.

John Karebian is the executive director of the Michigan Nurses Association.    He says Medicaid expansion is being “held hostage” by Republicans still angry over the passage of the Affordable Care Act.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - More than 30 conservative and tea party activists say they won't support Gov. Rick Snyder's re-election because of his support for expanding Medicaid eligibility to more Michigan adults under the federal health care law.

In an open letter to the Republican governor Tuesday, the advocates faulted him for consulting with U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Medicaid expansion.

They accuse Snyder of purposefully sticking a "finger in the eye of his own conservative base." The activists - including some of Michigan's better-known tea party advocates - say a "line must be drawn."

Snyder and Republican legislative leaders sent a letter to Sebelius May 29 asking her to meet with them in Michigan. The House is considering legislation that would expand Medicaid but require a federal waiver.

Up to half a million Michigan residents could lose their health insurance if the legislature fails to expand Medicaid.

Low-income Michiganders covered by local health plans could lose their coverage in 2014 under the Affordable Care Act. The law was written with the assumption states would accept federal funds to expand Medicaid.

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