UPDATE: Senate passes medicaid expansion after much political gamesmanship. Story here.
After months of political wrangling between the two factions of the Michigan GOP, the Senate today…. (sigh)…failed to pass expansion of Medicaid — for now. The AP report says the vote occurred with some political drama:
The Republican-led chamber voted 19-18 in favor of the expansion. But 20 votes were needed for passage because a Republican who’s fiercely opposed to federal health care law, Sen. Patrick Colback from Canton Township, declined to vote, preventing Republican Lt. Gov. Brian Calley from breaking a tie.
Pressure from advocates of Medicaid expansion is building in order for the state to receive federal approval before Michigan residents can be covered in January. To that end, Senate leaders could call another vote Tuesday night or Wednesday.
The House had passed Medicaid expansion in an eleventh hour vote before they broke for the summer last June.
As punishment for Gov. Snyder’s support of expansion and Lt. Gov. Calley’s vow to cast a tie-breaking vote to approve the legislation, Tea Party leader Wes Nakagiri launched his campaign yesterday to challenge the lt. governor for his position. Nakagiri said he plans to “whisper” in the governor’s ear with his “conservative voice” if he wins the nomination. Snyder’s choice of Calley faced a similar Tea Party objection in 2010, and won by a squeaker. Lt. governors are selected at the convention, so the process is one of purely unabashed politics.
Michigan’s GOP Senate majority seemed to enjoy torturing the state’s working class by playing the waiting game on Medicaid expansion with their political hemming-and-hawing stunt designed to appease the Tea Party clamour. Claiming they needed more time to “study” the plan, the lawmakers adjourned over two months ago without acting on the legislation that would extend healthcare to the working poor, to the tune of 320,000 people next year and about a half million the following year, under provisions of the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. The expansion would increase coverage to those earning up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level — part of a growing at-risk demographic in Michigan.
The very notion that private insurers are going to take up the slack is ludicrous.
The Robert Woods Johnson Foundation recently released their report on State-Level Trends in Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance, and it is no surprise that the Great Lakes State is trending in a very bad way.
In the year 2000, a robust 78.1 percent of Michigan workers had employer-based health insurance. That number has slipped more than any other state — now at a low of 62.9 percent. Although still above the national average of 60 percent, the trend line remains very disturbing. In that time, 1.6 million workers lost employer healthcare, and those that maintained coverage saw their premiums more than double from $6,543 annually to $13,803, with the employee share jumping from 14.6 percent to 23 percent. (Find an interactive data map here.)
Michigan’s healthcare is clearly in serious disarray.
Stay tuned…it could still come down tonight or tomorrow…
Amy Kerr Hardin