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Medicaid expansion moves forward in Michigan
MICHIGAN (NEWSCHANNEL 3) – Medicaid expansion in Michigan is one step closer to becoming reality.
On Wednesday three bills passed through the Senate Operations Committee, one would expand Medicaid while the other two offer alternatives to that, one offering more a free market solution for patients, the other creating a low income health plan.
After two days of hearing testimony the Senate work group has decided to move them all forward.
Wednesday was a long day of testimony from people on both sides of the issue, but ultimately the Medicaid expansion bill, Senate bill 4714, and two alternatives were passed out of committee and onto the floor.
“I’m glad to see 4714 move forward,” said Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer, “that is the bipartisan bill that the experts all endorse, that the governor is trying to move forward, and that’s heartening.”
However Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer isn’t happy with all of the bills.
“I am, you know, concerned that the Tea Party bills have moved as well,” said Whitmer, “those aren’t supported by any fact, any experts.”
However Senator Randy Richardville says all three plans deserve to move on to a vote.
“Some of them got some criticism, people pointed out some reasons for opposition, that will give them some time to put something together to counter those arguments and have something ready for the floor,” said Sen. Richardville.
With four yes votes, Senator Dave Hildenbrand abstained from voting on Senate bill 4714, saying he simply wasn’t ready to decide.
“At this point I still have a lot of great reservations and a lot of concern about the long term implications that expanding Medicaid in the state will have on our state, our state budget and our taxpayers,” said Sen. Hildenbrand.
Some democrats are saying that republicans should have taken this vote a month ago, before the summer break.
“No question,” said Sen. Whitmer, “and it doesn’t appear as though my republican colleagues have gotten any more votes, so I say let’s put it to a vote and get this to the governor’s desk.”
“I’m not gonna take criticism a whole lot,” said Sen. Richardville. “I wasn’t elected to lead this place by criticism, but what I thought was best for the citizens of Michigan.”
At this point, both sides say they are pleased to see the expansion bill moving forward, saying it will benefit hundreds of thousands of people in Michigan.
Senator Richardville says a full vote is likely going to happen on August 27th. If the bill passes then Michigan will need federal approval to implement the expansion.