House Committee Passes Medicaid Expansion Bill

By: Alyssa Fenske Email
By: Alyssa Fenske Email

LANSING (WILX)-- After months of political in-fighting, lawmakers have taken a key step toward expanding Medicaid in Michigan.

The House's Michigan Competitiveness Committee approved House Bill 4714 Wednesday.

The bill passed with 9 yes's, 5 no's, and one absence. The proposal got the four republicans needed to pass the bill, one of them being the committee chair, Rep. Mike Shirkey.

"I spent the past six weeks studying it in detail. I determined the downside of doing nothing was worse than the upside of being active," said (R) Rep. Mike Shirkey.

The proposal no longer includes the strict 48 month time limit. Instead, after the four years, adults will have the options of buying federal government subsidized insurance, or remaining on Medicaid by paying 7% more out-of pocket costs.

"The amendments provided were very sensible."

Also approved Wednesday was an amendment to give people on Medicaid 90 days to decide which option to choose.

"It gives them notice that they are going to be removed. So you don't have 400,000 people who have health benefits one day, and the next day have nothing," said (D) Rep. Andy Schor.

The bill could go for a vote in the full house on Thursday. If passed, the Senate would vote next week. Once passed by the state, the bill still requires a federal waiver to receive funding.

If passed the bill would roughly cover 320,000 more Michigan adults. Supporters, like the Michigan Medical Society, believe that should be reason enough to pass the bill.

"It's great for patients. I think that's very important. Hopefully it will also translate into healthy Michigan," said Medical Society President, Kenneth Elmassian.

But the bill has sparked emotions on both sides. Opponents of the bill, like Americans for Prosperity, are concerned that the federal government won't keep up their side of the bargain.

According to the bill the federal government would fully pay for the Medicaid for the first few years, and then eventually drop the funding to 90%.

"I'm very disappointed that it passed. It's going to cost Michigan taxpayers, nothing is free. Although the program is funded by federal tax dollars over the long term it will cost Michigan residents," said Americans for Prosperity State Director, Scott Hagerstom.

We will keep you updated as the bill is voted on by the House and Senate.

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