Traverse City Record-Eagle

Michigan

September 4, 2013

Michigan lawmakers give final OK to expand Medicaid

LANSING (AP) — Michigan lawmakers gave final approval Tuesday to legislation making more low-income residents eligible for Medicaid, making Michigan the 24th state — and just the third fully controlled by Republicans — to back a key component of the federal health care law.

The GOP-led House, on a 75-32 vote, approved expanding the government health insurance program to nearly a half-million Michigan residents within a few years. Many are expected to be eligible in 2014 if the state receives federal approval.

Gov. Rick Snyder will sign the bill after returning from a 10-day trade trip to Asia.

The House passed an earlier version of the measure in June, but the Republican governor and advocates struggled for months to win backing in the GOP-dominated Senate where many conservatives opposed to the Affordable Care Act have objections to expanding government. Last week, Snyder brought just enough Senate Republicans into his corner to expand Medicaid but could not persuade enough to agree to give the measure immediate effect.

That means an estimated 320,000 low-income adults eligible for the program in 2014 will wait until late March for coverage instead of as early of Jan. 1.

Medicaid expansion is part of a strategy to ensure nearly all Americans have health insurance under the 2010 Affordable Care Act. It was designed to cover the neediest uninsured people but became optional for states because of a Supreme Court decision last year.

Many GOP-led states have declined the expansion, despite the U.S. government promising to cover the entire cost for the first three years and 90 percent later. Michigan is poised to become the seventh state led by a Republican governor — and just the third where Republicans control the Legislature — to sign up.

Earlier Tuesday, Senate Democrats asked to reconsider last week’s failed vote on immediate effect but were told the bill was no longer in the chamber.

“To the average citizen, it simply makes the majority sounds petulant and petty,” said Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer, D-East Lansing.

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