Senate Makes Little Progess on Medicaid Expansion

By: Alyssa Fenske Email
By: Alyssa Fenske Email

LANSING (WILX)-- Mutterings of "lawmakers can't get anything done" are a bit louder Wednesday after a group tasked with finding a way to expand Medicaid in Michigan has nothing to offer.

The Senate's "Healthy Michigan Work Group" is tasked with re-writing the Medicaid expansion bill passed by the House in June. It was expected that the group would have something to present to the Senate Operations Committee on the 17th, but they came up empty handed.

Still, Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville (R) is confident the group will put something in his hands by the middle of next week.

"I don't think its going to be some minor tweaks, they are going to delve deeply into the hard parts of this issue and come back with something explained and supported," said Richardville

The group has two more weeks before it will be asked to present at the Operation Committee again. Richardville says the group is mainly working on adding pitfalls to House Bill 4717, making sure that if the national government falls though on it's payments, Michigan won't be left paying the bill.

"They're trying to make it a more solid document. (They're considering) if federal waivers aren't approved, and adding personal responsibility to what the House did."

Democratic leader Gretchen Whitmer isn't as convinced that the work group will be finished by the end of this month.

"Time is of the essence. We are going to keep the pressure on the Republicans to get the vote up, and get the issue to the Governors desk," said Whitmer.

If the final product of "Healthy Michigan Work Group" is passed by the Senate, the bill still has to be sent back to the House to be voted on again. It's a lengthy process that's leaving Democrats like Whitmer frustrated.

"The legislature should never have left for break without finishing this issue and without putting a vote on the board."

Democrats didn't ask for a vote at Wednesdays Senate session. Whitmer says they will have to try again at the next session on the 31st.

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