Traverse City Record-Eagle

Michigan

July 4, 2013

Panel to meet again on Medicaid expansion

LANSING (AP) — The Michigan Senate adjourned Wednesday without voting on whether to expand government health insurance eligibility to more low-income adults — a move that was expected but was nevertheless disappointing to the bill’s backers on the Senate floor and in its packed gallery.

Leading Republicans urged patience while they begin seeking an alternative to the proposed Medicaid expansion bill, and they used their majority to defeat a Democratic attempt to force a vote on the House-passed legislation, voting 18-12, mostly along party lines, not to advance it out of committee for a full vote.

The chamber was prepped for a summer renovation, which made for a bizarre scene at the Capitol. Senators stood in the back of the chamber, which no longer had carpeting or desks, and they were confined to designated areas by yellow caution tape. Meanwhile, the gallery was crowded with advocates for the uninsured.

Attendance originally wasn’t going to be taken at the session because no voting was expected, but that changed after Democrats promised to show up and demand a vote. Realizing the bad optics, many Republicans attended, too.

Majority Leader Randy Richardville convened his committee before the session and outlined his expectations for a workgroup he hopes will propose an alternative to the House legislation. No testimony was taken in the packed hearing room.

“The Senate Republicans stand alone in their ignorance and obstinance,” said Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whiter, an East Lansing Democrat who with other Democrats told stories about people in need of health coverage.

Richardville, a Monroe Republican, plans to hold another hearing in two weeks, allow testimony and get an update from the eight-member workgroup.

The group is expected to meet twice a week and give Richardville a progress report every other week.

“I do understand how important this issue to people on both sides of it and those that are in the middle as well,” he said. “We don’t have a bill in front us. House Bill 4174 ... is not the final product that we’re going to be looking at.”

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