News Story

Whitmer Coy On ‘Medicare For All,’ But Went Extra Mile For Obamacare’s Medicaid

A parliamentary maneuver that raised eyebrows

According to MIRS News, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is coy about the “Medicare For All” concept that’s become an issue in the Democratic presidential primary. Whitmer was questioned about her stance after she gave a speech at the Democratic presidential debates in Detroit last week.

MIRS reports that Whitmer declined to take a position, saying only, “I was really heartened by the debate on health care in particular.”

Back in 2013, there was no ambiguity about what state Sen. Gretchen Whitmer thought about another Democratic health care policy, which was signing the state up for the Obamacare Medicaid expansion. Whitmer joined all Senate Democrats (and eight Senate Republicans) in voting “yes” on the expansion, which made more people eligible for Medicaid and was expected to send approximately another $3 billion annually to hospitals in the state.

For the bill to go into effect immediately, it would need a two-thirds vote. It did not get that in the Senate. So, Medicaid expansion could not begin until three months after Michigan’s 2013 legislative session adjourned for good. At the time of the vote, that wasn’t expected to happen until mid-December.

On Oct. 1, 2013, Whitmer proposed a simple motion: Adjourn immediately. That way, the Medicaid expansion would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2014 rather than mid-March of that year. The vote to adjourn required a simple majority in both the House and Senate.

The votes weren’t there in either chamber, though. The motion lost in the Senate on a voice (unrecorded) vote, and the Medicaid expansion went into effect on March 14, 2014.