Snyder makes pitch for Medicaid expansion in West Michigan
Governor Snyder made a stop Wednesday morning at Pennock Hospital in Hastings before heading on to the Family Health Center in Battle Creek.
Snyder says expanding Medicaid coverage for low-income state residents, as allowed under the Federal Affordable Care Act is good policy for the state. (Battle Creek Enquirer coverage of Battle Creek stop). He says it will lower costs by getting people to primary care physicians who would otherwise make their first stop at an Emergency room. And the governor says it would help small businesses. He says that’s why it passed the House by comfortable margin.
“We had broad, bipartisan support, again not about politics. It passed. We’re facing a situation now where the Senate refused to vote and it was the Senate Republicans”
Snyder insisted later that he was not picking a fight with the Senate. Instead he called on people to contact their Senator and urge them to vote on the Healthy Michigan plan, which includes expanding Medicaid. State Representative Mike Callton was one of the people who introduced the governor. The Republican lawmaker, who is also a chiropractor, says more than 2300 people in Barry County would benefit from Medicaid expansion. Callton says that includes some of his friends and family.
“That is why I voted yes for this plan. As health care providers we encourage our patients to know all the facts. And I encourage the Senate to know the facts about the healthy Michigan plan”
The Senate adjourned last week without taking a vote on the bill that was approved by the House. It’s unclear if Medicaid expansion would have passed, but Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville said he would not bring the bill forward without assurances that a majority of Republican Senators would vote yes. Republican State Senator Tonya Schuitmaker, whose district includes Kalamazoo and part Van Buren County, told MLive Kalamazoo that she believes a vote should have been held. But Schuitmaker says she would have voted no. She called it a risky proposition for Michigan. Schuitmaker says she is concerned about the state having to pick up the tab after the first three years when the federal government says it will pay all of the cost of Medicaid expansion. Schuitmaker says she’s open to considering a new version of the bill.
In Hastings Wednesday, Governor Snyder said politics and emotion were getting in the way of doing what’s right for Michigan. Snyder says he knows that the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare is a divisive issue. And he says there are many problems with the health care overhaul.
“The negative parts are coming no matter what. The tax increases are coming, the cuts to health care are coming. That’s federal law, that’s the law of the land. We have one part we control. Do we want to help these people? Do we want to help several hundred thousand Michiganders? Thousands right here in Barry and Eaton county. To take them from a broken system to a system where they can have a better quality of life at lower cost to all Michiganders? I don’t think that’s a hard question to answer”
Snyder says the bill approved by the House is not a blanket expansion of Medicaid. He says the Healthy Michigan plan will also require recipients to take responsibility for their own health care. Wednesday’s event included small business owners and medical professionals who support Medicaid expansion. Doug Smednick, a physician with Family Practice in Middleville says his doctor’s office is also a small business.
“As a small business owner, we have to maintain a viable business plan for ourselves, for our employees and the patients that we already serve. There’s a limit to the free or under-compensated care we can provide”
And Governor Snyder says there’s a limit to how long the Senate can wait to pass Medicaid expansion. The Gongwer News Service (subscription required) reports that the Snyder administration says it must get approval by the fall. The Legislature is back in session on July third and then meets every other week until August 27th.