When the Republican controlled Michigan Senate passed a Medicaid expansion bill, it moved a key Obamacare provision closer to becoming a reality in the state, and potentially giving a big victory to President Barack Obama.
The Senate's passing of House Bill 4714 moves back to the House, which is poised to concur with the Senate. House Speaker Jase Bolger, R-Marshall, has already shown that he will turn to the Democrats to gain most of the votes needed for passage. Presuming the bill passes, it will be sent to Gov. Rick Snyder, who has lobbied extensively to expand the social welfare health care program in the state and he will almost certainly sign it into law.
Michigan would be the 25th state to go along with the expansion. There are 21 states that have refused to do so, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
"Some would call it a win for Obama, but I don't really see it that way. After all, he's not running for president again," said Inside Michigan Politics Editor Ballenger. "To me, if Michigan hadn't done the expansion that would have been a loss for him. So, it's not as much a win for him. It's more of the absence of something that would have a negative.
"Things have not been going well for Obama as far as Obamacare is concerned," Ballenger continued. "If something else had happened, and Michigan hadn't passed this, it would have been just one more thing that was supposed to happen with Obamacare, but didn't."
Ballenger said many questions remain unanswered.
"To me, there are still a lot of significant things we don't know yet," he said. "Sen. Roger Kahn and the others who supported the expansion keep saying they have written a unique bill, and put in a lot of safeguards for Michigan in it. They say that if the federal government doesn't live up to its side of things Michigan will be able to get out. I don't know if that's significant or not. That's something we just don't know.
"I do think that the Obama administration is so desperate right now that it might be very careful how it handles this," Ballenger said. "I'm not sure they'll just willy nilly step in and object to what's in the bill. Even after they start sending the money to Michigan they might be a little bit afraid of what might happen if they start saying 'you can't do this or that.' "
Robert Kolt, a Democratic political strategist and head of Kolt Communications in Lansing, said those he has been involved with haven't been talking about it as an Obama win.
"With the people I know who were very engaged in this issue, I don't think I heard any of them refer to it as a win for the president," Kolt said. "They see it more as a societal victory. So, it comes down to a matter of perspective. Of course, everybody involved in politics will put their spin on it and I think that's unfortunate.
"I think, to the sort of people who are very deeply into politics, it might be seen as a victory for the president, but those aren't the average people," Kolt added.
Dennis Darnoi, head of Densar, a Republican political consulting and public relations firm, said it seems to be perceived as a state issue or a battle among Republicans.
"I guess if we wanted to publicize it that way, it could be called a 'win' for the Obama," Darnoi said. "But I think most people look at it as a state issue. I think the win that would be given to Obama was when he got Obamacare passed and signed the bill. As far as Medicaid expansion is concerned, it seems that most of what I've read has characterized the five or six Republican governors who decided to do it as a win for Obama, but not so much the adoption of it.
"From what I've read, it's been covered nationally more along the lines of an internal issue among Republicans," Darnoi continued. "So, I think the implications are more on the shoulders of the state Legislature and Gov. Rick Snyder than on Obama."