Local lawmakers split on Medicaid expansion vote

The 20-18 vote expands Medicaid coverage to 470,000 low-income residents in the state as a part of the federally mandated Affordable Care Act.

After two votes and hours of politics, Michigan became the 25th state to pass Medicaid expansion.

The 20-18 vote expands the coverage to 470,000 low-income residents in the state as a part of the federally mandated Affordable Care Act.

The bill nearly didn't pass after Sen. Patrick Colbeck, (R-Canton), did not vote in the first vote of the night, leaving the tally at 19-18, just one vote shy of passage.

As the Detroit Free Press reports, if Colbeck, a opponent of the legislation, had voted no as was expected creating a tie, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley would have had the tie-breaking vote. Calley had said he was prepared to support the legislation.

After a recess and an amendment, Sen. Tom Casperson, (R-Escanaba), switched his vote from no to yes, allowing for the passage.

In the end, local senators Geoff Hanson, (R-Hart), and Howard Walker (R-Traverse City) voted in favor of the expansion. Senators Darwin Booher (R-Evart) and John Moolenaar (R-Midland) voted against it. To see the entire roll call, click here.

Moolenaar protested against the legislation on the Senate floor asking his colleagues "Is now the time in our nation's history to expand federal government entitlement spending?"

"Our country sits $17 trillion in debt, and another debate looms about raising our nation's debt ceiling in Washington, because, again, the federal government has maxed out its credit card," Moolenaar said.

Senator Walker also took to the Senate floor and said while he doesn't believe in the Affordable Care Act, the Medicaid expansion was the only viable way to keep hospital's doors open.

"While Medicaid is certainly a flawed system extending it to the uninsured citizen who are already essentially getting free health care through uncompensated care, would at least provide hospitals with something to offset the cuts from the federal government," said Walker. "The Medicaid expansion plan also requires the newly insured to pay co-pays for medical services, provides a disincentive to using our hospital emergency rooms where currently there is none, and places limits on how long they can stay on Medicaid without paying substantially higher costs."

"I am hopeful that a day comes where Obamacare is no longer the law of the land," Walker went on to say. "Until that time, I must ensure that we limit cost-shifting in our hospitals and that our hospitals' doors remain open. I feel this legislation was the most viable way to do so."

Governor Rick Snyder praised the Senate's passage of the expansion, saying it will make the state "healthier and stronger."

"The Healthy Michigan plan emphasizes personal responsibility. Those covered by the plan will be required to share in the costs through premiums," Snyder said. "There also will be incentives for them to take responsibility for their lifestyle choices and to maintain or improve their health."

Under the federal health care plan, states can expand Medicaid to adults making up to 133 percent of the poverty level. That translates to about $15,300 for an individual, meaning an individual wouldn't necessarily have to be under the poverty line to receive Medicaid.

The expansion would be fully paid for by the federal government through 2017. After then, the federal contribution would drop to 90% by 2020.