LANSING (WKZO) -- It took two tries but the Michigan Senate has approved the contentious Medicaid Expansion bill.
The first vote ended in defeat 19 yea and 18 nay because Senator Patrick Colbeck withheld his vote. If he had voted no and it had ended in a tie, Lt. Governor Calley was prepared to vote yes. Democratic Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer called the tactic by Colbeck a “dereliction of duty”.
After a vote to reconsider, a recess and some back room arm-twisting, concessions were made and a second vote was held and this time it passed 20 to 18. Tom Casperson switched his vote to put it over the top.
The bill now heads back to the house where it passed by a wide margin in its original version. The Senate has added 17 amendments, none of which are expected to be deal breakers.
In a news conference held after the vote, Governor Rick Snyder thanked all those who helped push the bill through. He says the measure will cut healthcare costs, save the state money, and give about 475-thousand of the state’s working poor access to healthcare, the kind of preventative care that will keep them out of the Emergency Room and on the job.
Snyder deflected questions about the political price that some Republican Senators may have to pay for supporting the measure.
Because the votes were not there to give it immediate effect, eligible applicants may have to wait until next April instead of January to get access to Medicaid coverage.
There may be a push in the senate to give it immediate effect to make sure the federal funding is there on the first day the program begins.