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      Weighing the pros and cons of Medicaid expansion

      T he Medicaid expansion through the Affordable Care Act has stirred up a lot of debate over the last few months.

      B usiness and medical leaders in each of our communities have debated the possible pros and cons of expansion.

      " The reason people are opposed to this issue really is a couple of things one their concern the federal government doesn't have enough money to fund this program and won't have enough money to sustain it over the time ," Petoskey Regional Chamber of Commerce Director Carlin Smith said.

      Some feel, however, that it is best to take advantage of what the federal government is offering to the states, e specially when many smaller communities thrive on jobs in the medical industry.

      " Certainly the Medicaid expansion creates more revenue opportunity for the state of Michigan the things that interest us is it supports and helps our local hospital in our local health care providers in that type of thing ," Smith said.

      P ublic l y funded health centers are mostly in favor of expansion that would give Medicaid to an additional 320,000 patients across the state.

      " It will provide a behavioral health benefit that is sorely lacking for people who don't have insurance today ," North Country Community Mental Health Director Alexis Kaczynski said.

      At N orth Country Community Mental Health in Petoskey, a majority of their patients have Medicaid, but there are plenty of people coming in and out of the six clinics around the region that don't have healthcare.

      " We find based on whether it's a moderate scenario or a high needs scenario it ranges from around 8,000 to 12,000 people," Kaczynski said.

      W hile hospitals, insurers, small businesses , and the poor are pushing for the state to expand medicaid , conservative groups are pressuring states to reject the proposal.