Medicaid expansion delayed in Michigan

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Medicaid expansion in Michigan has taken a slight pitstop, and will not take effect until late March or early April instead of Jan. 1. The senate sent HB 4714 to the House Tuesday morning, but failed to vote on granting the bill immediate effect.

Senate Democrats pushed to call for a vote on immediate effect, but Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, who presides over the Senate, told the chamber that the bill had already been delivered to the House.

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Despite the drama in the Senates, lasting eight hours, eight Republicans joined all 12 Senate Democrats and passed the bill 75-32 that would expand Medicaid to close to 450,000 of the state’s working poor adults.

To grant the bill immediate effect, supermajority was required, and it fell two votes short of the 26 needed.

“The people of our state are left to pay the price because the Senate Republicans chose to play political games rather than do the right thing on this fundamentally important legislation,” Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer, D-East Lansing, said in a statement. “This obstruction is disrespectful to the members of this chamber, and most importantly, the people we were elected to serve.”

(Related: Medicaid Expansion Will Save the State Money, Snyder Says)

The delay could cost the state millions and decrease the amount of savings the state is projected to see in its general fund.

House members were greeted with a letter on their desk today from U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who was responding to a letter from Rep. Mike Shirkey, R-Clark Lake.

Sebelius clarified in the letter that if the Legislature expands coverage and drops it at a later date, there would not be a financial penalty as a result, and no reduction in federal matching dollar rates.

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“Further, dropping such coverage would not jeopardize the state’s ability to participate in any other parts of the Medicaid program,” Sebelius wrote.

Medicaid expansion is headed to Gov. Rick Snyder’s desk, but he isn’t likely to sign it for about two weeks, when he returns from an investment mission in China.

Christopher J. Berry is a Michigan elder law attorney Dedicated to helping seniors, veterans and their families navigate the long-term care maze. To learn more visit http://www.theeldercarefirm.com/ or call 248.481.4000

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