Traverse City Record-Eagle

Michigan

June 24, 2013

Medicaid inaction shows GOP rift

LANSING — Gov. Rick Snyder’s failure to persuade the GOP-led Senate to offer medical insurance to low-income adults lays bare the fundamental difference between his approach to the contentious federal health care law and that of many of his fellow Republicans.

He doesn’t believe the Affordable Care Act is the “right answer” but also sees the chance to help out working poor visiting emergency rooms for uncompensated care, the costs of which are borne by hospitals and ultimately everyone with health insurance premiums.

When House Republicans inserted provisions to make recipients pay some of their medical costs and incentivize them to be healthier — a plan dubbed “Healthy Michigan” — Snyder welcomed it as a pragmatic, proactive way to take a flawed law he thinks is here to stay and make it good for the state. Otherwise, he said, Michigan will pay $1.5 billion in taxes under the federal health overhaul and get nothing back, and hospitals will see lower Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements and receive nothing in return.

On the other side are detractors who contend Michigan can’t make lemonade out of a rotten lemon.

“Most Republicans are not in favor of expanding Medicaid or doing anything to enable Obamacare. It’s one of the worst policy decisions ever made in our federal government and frankly it’s something that needs to be repealed as quickly as possible,” said Sen. Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton Township.

He’s among 26 Republicans in the Senate, where a longstanding GOP majority became a supermajority after the 2010 election — when Republicans were propelled to complete control of state government in part because of tea party angst over the health care law, bank rescues and stimulus spending. Yet Michigan voters also elected Snyder, a more moderate Republican whose embrace of parts of the Affordable Care Act has left him out of favor with the right wing of the party despite signing a right-to-work law in December.

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