Gongwer Publisher on plan to expand Medicaid coverage

Feb 7, 2013

Governor Snyder says he supports expanding Medicaid coverage to 470,000 Michigan residents. The first three years of that expansion will be funded by the federal government under the Affordable Care Act. 

Credit Melissa Benmark / WKAR

Gongwer News Service Publisher John Lindstrom told WMUK's Gordon Evans that Snyder has expressed concerns about whether the additional patients could get care. Lindstrom says other Republican governors have said they were worried about the long-term costs of additional Medicaid patients.  He says people in the medical community have said they can handle the additional caseload, rather than just sending the new Medicaid patients to hospital emergency rooms. Lindstrom says Snyder may have felt he had some "partisan cover" for his decision when Ohio Governor John Kasich announced this week that he would support expanding Medicaid coverage. 

Some Republican lawmakers have been reluctant to support expanding Medicaid because of the long-term costs once federal funding is decreased. Lindstrom says Snyder is trying to address that by proposing a state "health savings account." That would set aside state savings from Medicaid to help pay for expansion in later years. Lindstrom says even some business leaders who say they were opposed to "Obamacare" support Medicaid expansion because they see it as something that will save money in the long run. 

Last week, Lindstrom told WMUK listeners that Governor Snyder would need votes from several Democrats to get his proposed $1.2-billion for road funding passed. Lindstrom says Medicaid expansion will also require Democratic support. He says this may be an easier sell than the transportation package for Democrats in the Legislature. 

Gongwer Editor Zach Gorchow recently took a look at how things add up (or don't) in Governor Snyder's budget proposal and how Republican governors are handling Medicaid expansion on the Gongwer Blog