(0828/13) - After eight hours of deliberations and two votes, the Michigan State Senate narrowly approved Medicaid expansion, Tuesday night.
The measure is supported by Gov. Rick Snyder. It is expected to provide healthcare coverage to 470,000 people by the year 2020.
This expansion covers adults who earn up to 133 percent of the poverty level. That's around $15,000 for an individual or $31,000 for a family of four.
Midland State Senator John Moolenaar was one of 18 Republicans who voted against Medicaid expansion legislation.
"I do believe we need a strong economy that allows individuals to access health care, but I think expanding Medicaid is the wrong direction," he said. "There is a financial benefit in the short term to the state. In the long term, we are on the hook for several hundred million dollars to continue to move forward in the budget."
The bill approved Tuesday contains several Medicaid reforms, including incentives for healthy living that would reduce a recipients co-pays. There are also income-based premiums.
"There are incentives and a waiver request from the federal government, saying if certain criteria are not met, the bill would not go forward. The goal is to promote personal responsibility and some buy in on the Medicaid recipient's part, but it will need federal approval to go forward," Moolenaar said.
The bill requires recipients to contribute 5 percent of their out-of-pocket medical costs. After four years, that co-pay increases to 7 percent. Recipients could also choose to purchase insurance on the health care exchange.
Flint State Senator, Democrat Jim Ananich, says this measure will provide cheaper and more efficient healthcare delivery.
"I think it's really important for businesses, individuals, hospitals and people who are uninsured," he said. "It does so with federal funds, reduces the costs to taxpayers $250 million to Michigan taxpayers, makes a stable system for our healthcare providers and really does reach the goal of what we are trying to reach here."
Despite the bill's approval, Senate Democrats are still not happy, because it won't take immediate effect. It won't be implemented until the end of March 2014. Before then, the bill will go back to the house for consideration and then to the Governor's desk.
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