The State Senate on Tuesday approved a plan to expand Medicaid health care coverage to 470,000 more people after lengthy deliberations in Lansing.
Michigan is now the 25th state to approve Medicaid expansion after last night's 20-18 vote, which followed an early deadlock, the Detroit Free Press reported.The decision reached a dead end when Sen. Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton, decided not to vote the first time the bill came up leaving it one vote short of passing.
However, senators immediately approved a reconsideration of the vote. Several hours later, an amendment — that hospitals can’t charge Medicaid patients more than 115 percent of what they charge Medicare patients — was offered and Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, switched his vote to a yes, the Detroit Free Press reported. The bill then had the 20 votes needed to pass.
State Sen. John Pappageorge, R-Troy, who represents Birmingham, stayed opposed to the legislation throughout the night.
"The Senate should be commended for approving the Healthy Michigan plan, which will make a difference in the lives of nearly half a million Michiganders along with saving tax dollars and boosting our economy," Gov. Rick Snyder said in a written statement following the vote.
The Medicaid expansion extends benefits to people who fall within 133 percent of the federal poverty level. Benefits will be fully compensated by the federal government through 2017. The federal contribution would drop to 90 percent by 2020.
Snyder has been traveling the state promoting Medicaid expansion as part of his "Healthy Michigan Now" campaign.
"If you had someone at your kitchen table who needed help, we'd figure out how to help them," he told a group in Novi last week. said. "We've got 470,000 other family members we can help."
How it worksThe bill requires recipients to contribute 5 percent of their out-of-pocket medical costs. After 48 months, the co-pay would increase to 7 percent or the recipient could purchase insurance on the health care exchange. If a person is determined to be “medically frail” — defined as having a chronic disease, mental illness or are unable to complete the daily tasks of life — they would remain at the 5 percent co-pay.
Snyder said the state budget will be about $200 million better after the start of this program starting with the first year. Snyder said the state can set aside half of those savings each year for a health savings account, which will pay for Medicaid expansion past the year 2030.
Michigan AFL-CIO President Karla Swift thanked the Senate for passing the bill on Tuesday.
"Medicaid expansion is a victory for over 400,000 of Michigan’s most vulnerable families, but the way in which it was passed was plagued with political gamesmanship and months of delays. Today’s vote made it clear that the Tea Party controls some Lansing politicians," she said.
She urged the State House to pass the revised bill as soon as possible.
But some residents, however, said the vote was "too little, too late."
“Only after facing overwhelming pressure from the majority of the public that elected them to do the right thing have Senate Republicans finally acted – and even then, this bogus vote is too little, too late,” said Marcia Bridges, a homecare worker in Eastpointe. “Refusing to vote on this lifesaving bipartisan plan in the first place has put Michiganders – including children and people with disabilities – at risk
The state House of Representatives approved a healthcare expansion plan in June. It is not expected to vote on the Senate's plan until after Labor Day.
Do you think Medicaid expansion is a good change for Michigan? Tell us in the comments.