Traverse City Record-Eagle

Michigan

July 18, 2013

Mich. Senate leader eyes Medicaid vote in August

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The leader of the Republican-dominated Michigan Senate said Wednesday he is tentatively planning to hold a much-anticipated vote on Medicaid expansion legislation in late August, assuming a group of senators studying the issue proposes a plan as early as next week.

Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, said the full Senate could vote Aug. 27 or 28 — or the following week — on whether to cover hundreds of thousands more low-income adults with government health insurance under the federal health care law.

Gov. Rick Snyder, angered when the Senate adjourned in June without voting on a House-passed Medicaid expansion plan that included GOP requirements that participants pay some costs, has been publicly pressuring fellow Republicans for an up-or-down vote. He has previously indicated that a late August vote would come too late for him to secure federal approval in time to cover newly eligible recipients starting Jan. 1.

Snyder spokeswoman Sara Wurfel said there is no hard and fast deadline, but each passing day makes it harder to implement the expansion.

"It's urgent for Michiganders, our small businesses and job providers, and our state's taxpayers," she said.

A Senate workgroup meeting privately is expected to propose an alternative to the House bill next week, with public testimony to follow in a July 31 legislative hearing.

"There's no sense in getting into a big dialogue until we know what we're talking about," Richardville said Wednesday during a brief hearing he convened to provide an update.

Conservative activists who oppose Medicaid expansion and Democrats who support it expressed concerns about making sure the public can weigh in on what the study group proposes. Richardville said the public will be able to give input.

"This a huge issue, a multibillion-dollar issue. It will have a huge effect on taxpayers here in Michigan. We look forward to numerous public hearings to fully vet what's going on in secret right now," said Scott Hagerstrom, director of Americans for Prosperity-Michigan.

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