Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) first indicated his support for Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion back in February. But since then, he’s encountered many of the same roadblocks that other leaders in red states have faced — largely thanks to an intransigent legislature that’s refusing to cooperate with the health reform law at any cost. Now, the GOP governor is redoubling his efforts to convince his fellow Republicans to expand the public insurance program under President Obama’s health law.
As the Detroit News reports, Snyder is telling the state’s lawmakers that agreeing on a Medicaid expansion plan should be one of the top priorities for the remainder of the legislative session. And, since Michigan adjourns for the summer on June 27, time is running out. Snyder recently told reporters that he thinks passing Medicaid expansion “has more urgency” than other current initiatives like raising funds to improve roads.
Snyder’s original proposal to expand Medicaid under Obamacare, which would extend health coverage to nearly half a million low-income people in the state, was rejected by Republican lawmakers. Instead of accepting generous federal funding to add more people to the Medicaid rolls, Michigan’s GOP wants to put more restrictions on the public program — suggesting a lifetime cap on coverage that would kick healthy adults off of Medicaid after four years. Federal officials have indicated they likely won’t approve that, and Snyder himself has questioned whether it’s legal to impose such a restriction. Some Democratic lawmakers in the state suspect that Republicans want to pass their proposal just so they can have an opportunity to blame President Obama when the federal government rejects it.
Still, Snyder is desperate to see some legislative movement — especially since Michigan’s House leaders have indicated they want to adjourn on June 13, two weeks earlier than the summer recess officially begins. He has invited Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to meet with the GOP-controlled legislature to discuss their options for Medicaid expansion.
Snyder is hardly the only GOP leader in this situation. In Arizona, Gov. Jan Brewer (R) essentially shut down lawmaking while her party blocked Medicaid expansion, vetoing every bill that came to her desk until the Republican House Speaker finally agreed to schedule a vote on the Obamacare policy. In Ohio, Gov. John Kasich (R) implored his party to consider Medicaid expansion by invoking Ronald Reagan, pointing out that the former Republican president would have supported the initiative.
Snyder threw his support behind Medicaid expansion largely because it’s estimated to save his state up to $1 billion dollars over the next decade. In fact, a recent analysis projected that stubborn states refusing to expand Medicaid under Obamacare will lose out on over $8 billion, while leaving over 3 million poor Americans without health insurance.