September 3, 2013 at 4:52 pm

Michigan House sends Medicaid expansion bill to governor for signing

Lansing — Michigan will become the 25th state to expand Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act after the House concurred with the Senate on the bill Tuesday.

It’s a major political victory for Gov. Rick Snyder who made the “Healthy Michigan” legislation his top priority. The bill will add upwards of 470,000 low-income Michiganians to the Medicaid rolls, bring roughly $2 billion of federal health care funding to the state and create an estimated 25,000 new jobs.

“This is a bright day in Michigan,” Snyder said in a press conference following the House vote.grant

Snyder was scheduled to depart Tuesday for a 10-day trade mission to Asia, but announced early in the day that was postponing his departure until Wednesday to shepherd the bill through its final steps in the Legislature. Snyder said he will sign the bill into law after he returns from his trade mission.

Snyder hoped the Senate Tuesday morning would reconsider a vote taken last week that will delay implementation of the expansion until late March or early April, but the Senate passed the bill along to the House with no further action.

State Department of Community Health Director Jim Haveman estimates the state will lose about $7 million per day that the expansion is delayed, money that the federal government will not be spending to fund health care for additional Michigan residents. Some Senate Republicans disputed that estimate Tuesday.

“I would prefer that the bill would have got immediate effect,” Snyder said at the press conference. “We’ll just move forward.”

Asked whether he will ask the federal government not to penalize people who go without insurance while they are waiting for the expansion to become effective, Snyder said, “Clearly that’s an item to discuss.”

The House approved the Medicaid expansion bill Tuesday afternoon on a 75-32 vote and sent it to the governor’s desk for signing.

The bill won’t become effective until late March or early April because the Senate earlier Tuesday refused to reconsider its decision last week not to give its passage of the bill immediate effect.

The House first passed the bill in mid-June with immediate effect and Tuesday concurred with changes and amendments added by the Senate.

The Senate had a week to mull over the legislation before the start of vacation June 20, but refused to take a vote on the bill even after Snyder flew home early from a trade mission to Israel to convince them to pass it.

Last week, eight Republican senators joined with the upper chamber’s 12 Democrats to pass the measure with the minimum 20 votes required. Supporters could not muster the minimum 26 votes, or two-thirds, needed to give the bill immediate effect. Without such support, the bill will not become effective until 90 days after the last day of this legislative session in late December. That means the legislation will not take effect until late March or early April 2014.

The House passed the bill with immediate effect, which would make it effective Jan. 1. Supporters hoped the upper chamber would take another vote on immediate effect Tuesday morning, but they did not. Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, said demanding immediate effect is like “wanting dessert with every meal.”

“The Legislature has gone through enough on this issue,” Richardville said, following Tuesday’s Senate session. “We’re not going to consider that again.”

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Detroit News Staff Writer Bryce Hoffman contributed.

Speaker of the house Jase Bolger watches the voting board as the Michigan ... (Dale G. Young / The Detroit News)
Michigan Department of Human Services Director Jim Haveman, center, and ... (Dale G. Young / The Detroit News)
Michigan Department of Human Services Director Jim Haveman watches Gov. ... (Dale G. Young / The Detroit News)