Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

June 26, 2013

Editorial: Medicaid vanishing act new low for Legislature

Just when it looked like state lawmakers couldn’t be more irresponsible, the state Senate has taken it up a notch.

Last week the Senate just walked away from a vote on a proposal to expand Medicaid coverage to nearly half a million Michigan residents, a move than could also have saved the state billions of dollars. That’s billions. And they just threw it away.

Never mind that the state Chamber of Commerce, virtually every hospital, medical authority and physician group in the state, Gov. Rick Snyder and a host of other Republicans — including the state House — backed the plan. Instead, senate leadership bowed to threats from tea party types willing to sacrifice medical care for those who can’t afford it just so they can take another shot at Obamacare.

And it’s not like most state senators are tea party members. Instead, they quake in their boots at the thought the tea party may put up a far-right candidate in the next primary election ­— dominated by ultra-conservative activists — and they may have to go home and find a real job.

We of course should applaud politicians who actually have principles and vote on them. But when ideology will cost thousands of people a chance for low- or no-cost health insurance for themselves and their kids, and the state billions of dollars, it is time to compromise.

Instead, the senate went on vacation, a nice two-month recess in the middle of the summer.

Snyder, who cut short a trade trip to Israel to lobby for the expansion, said it well: “Take a vote, not a vacation.”

The proposal calls for the federal government to pay 100 percent of the costs of the expansion through 2017, and then the amount would decline to 90 percent by 2020.

It has been estimated Michigan would receive about $2 billion a year through 2017; between 2017 and 2020, the amount would drop by 10 percent.

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