Subcommittee Removes Medicaid Expansion From Budget

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For Linda Horton of Lansing, having Medicaid would make all the difference...

"I'm 64 and I've never had a colonoscopy, which is something you should get starting at age 50," she said. "My plan that I'm on right now does not cover that."

Under a county health plan reserved for those with lower incomes, Horton says she's not able to get the medical attention she needs.

With Medicaid expansion that would all change.

"I would be able to have the testing that I need," said Horton.

However, with a House subcommittee vote, Wednesday, Horton and 450,000 other Michiganders may not get that chance.

"The Appropriations subcommittee passed their budget without including any money that would be coming from the federal government through Medicaid expansion," said Ari Adler, Press Secretary for House Speaker Jase Bolger (R).

Under the Affordable Care Act, states that choose to expand Medicaid would have 100 percent of their expansion costs covered by the federal government for the next three years. Afterwards, it's supposed to drop to 90 percent and stay there, but Adler says skepticism kept the subcommittee from voting it through.

"You have a government in D.C. that hasn't been able to pass a budget for a number of years and you never know exactly what's going to happen with federal funding," he said. "We didn't want to pass a budget that assumed we would have money."

According to Adler, the possibility of taxpayers footing the bill was enough for voters to say 'no'. Those at Care Free Medical, a non-profit clinic in Lansing that sees people like Horton, say that's a mistake.

"That's going to cover people who really need to be in the system, seeing a primary care physician over time and long term," said Michelle Mantz, Vice President of Public Relations for Care Free Medical.

Horton agrees, saying expanding Medicaid could help prevent emergency room visits for herself and others.

"There's an old saying, 'an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure'," said Horton.

There are still several votes on the budget before it becomes official, so supporters are quick to point out Medicaid expansion is not dead yet in Michigan. Next, the vote goes to the entire Appropriations Committee, followed by the House floor and, finally, the Senate.

House Speaker Jase Bolger wants to the see the budget done by June 1.

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