A vote could take place late this month
The Michigan Senate on Wednesday took action on expanding Medicaid in Michigan by reporting three bills out of committee.
The bills reported out of the Senate Government Operations Committee now are technically before the full Senate where they can be voted on for possible passage, which reportedly could take place Aug. 27.
The latest version of House Bill 4714 is the measure that's receiving the lion's share of news media coverage. It would do what the administration of President Barack Obama and Gov. Rick Snyder want, which is to expand Medicaid in Michigan.
Medicaid expansion is the top issue state lawmakers face this year regarding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare. Expanding Medicaid in Michigan accommodates the implementation of Obamacare. Refusing to expand Medicaid would put Michigan among the 20-plus states that are holding out against the key Obamacare provision.
On June 13, the Michigan House passed its version of House Bill 4714 with 28 GOP House members voting "yes." The Senate did not take the bill up at that time. Instead, HB 4714 was sent to a Senate work group where it was altered, but the provisions to expand Medicaid remain in the bill. Gov. Snyder and the Democrats still support it.
In addition to House Bill 4714, the committee also reported out two alternatives to Medicaid expansion. One plan consists of Senate Bills 0459 and 0460, which are sponsored by Sen. Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton. The other alternative plan is Senate Bill 0422, sponsored by Sen. Bruce Caswell, R-Hillsdale.
Republicans on the committee voted to report all three of the plans, with the exception of Sen. Dave Hildenbrand, R-Lowell, who abstained on House Bill 4714. Democrats on the committee voted "yes" on House Bill 4714, and "no" on the other two bills.
"It is apparent that the General Operations Committee is taking the various options before us under serious consideration," Sen. Colbeck said Wednesday afternoon. "I appreciate that Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville is taking this approach.
"I think we all share the same objectives," Sen. Colbeck added. "The question before us is which one of these plans best fulfills those objectives."
Sen. Colbeck said his plan has not been taken seriously by the traditional news media.
"I didn't get a single request for comment from those guys," he said.
One reason the news media might be ignoring the Colbeck bills is because the Snyder administration claims a private entity running a health care exchange, which would take place under Sen. Colbeck's plan, is not allowed under Obamacare.
Linda Gorman, of the Independence Institute in Denver, said that's not the case.
"We have an exchange in Colorado that's run by a private entity," Gorman said. "There may be other issues involved, and people need to understand that a privately run entity can be forced to operate like a publicly operated one through government regulations. But whether an exchange is operated by a private entity or a public one is not a major issue."