House Passes Medicaid Expansion
During a late night at the Capitol, leaders on both sides of the aisle were hopeful the Medicaid expansion would get the votes needed for approval in the House.
"We want to improve the health of every Michigander," said Ari Adler, the spokesman for House Speaker Bolger. "We want to have personal responsibility required and we want to protect Michigan taxpayers and it's been a really good effort by folks on both sides of the aisle trying to work together and come to some resolution in this."
"There's a reason why business organizations strongly support Medicaid expansion. The State Chamber of Commerce is in support, the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce is in support and the Small Business Association of Michigan is in support," said Representative Tim Greimel, the House Minority Leader. "The reason why these business organizations support it is that fundamentally this is a good bill for Michigan's small businesses."
If approved, about half of those uninsured in Michigan -- up to 400,000 people -- would get health insurance.
While Democrats and the Governor have supported the expansion, some Republicans needed reforms in order to support the bill.
"We do not want to be the caucus of no. We want to be the caucus of no but we have another idea and so we offered a solution which is this reform package that we are working on now," said Adler. "We are interested in working with the federal government. We are hearing good things about potential for the waivers that we would need and hopefully we can partner with the federal government and make Michigan healthier overall."
Republicans wanted to give people more choices, more personal responsibility, and to make sure Michigan taxpayers aren't left on the hook for a huge bill.
Democrats say those Republicans who don't support the Medicaid expansion do so because of President Obama.
"Or in some instances those who are maybe OK with it, are scared to death that if they vote for it they could face a primary challenge by an extreme Tea Party person," said Rep. Greimel.
Then around 9:50 p.m., hours after the House normally finishes its business the vote came. 76 votes yes, 31 votes no, with 2 not voting and the Medicaid expansion was approved.
The bill is now headed to the Senate. Supporters said it will save the state $200,000 a year if it becomes law.
There are two ideas on how that money should be spent. Republicans want to save the money in case the federal government doesn't live up to its promise to cover 90-percent of the cost after the year 2020. Democrats want to give it back to the middle class, who they say has been unfairly taxed under Republican leadership.
The bill hasn't been scheduled for a committee vote yet, but the Senate is back in session on Tuesday.