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State lawmakers a step closer to approving Medicaid expansion, overhaul

State lawmakers are moving forward with a plan to expand Medicaid in Michigan after months of debate. A state House panel approved the measure yesterday, and the full House is expected to vote on it today.

Republicans on the committee were split on the legislation. Many said they were not willing to support legislation that would further entrench the federal Affordable Care Act in Michigan. 

The federal government says it’ll foot the entire bill for Medicaid expansion through 2016, and at least 90 percent after that.

But Representative Ken Goike (R- Armada) says he and many of his Republican colleagues don’t trust Washington to keep that promise.

“We’re going to put a lot more people on the rolls, and therefore they’re going to be trapped on something that’s not going to be sustainable,” Goike said.

Democrats on the panel all voted in favor of the bill after lawmakers dropped a controversial plan to limit able-bodied adults to four years on Medicaid. But they say they’re still concerned about language that would raise premiums and co-pays for some patients after four years.

Representative Paul Clemente (D-Lincoln Park) is the top Democrat on the panel.

"I see this as a working poor issue," said Clemente. "These are people that are doing the right thing. They're going to work. They’re trying to make things better. And this is something to help them."

Committee chair Mike Shirkey (R-Jackson) says he was also wary of supporting the legislation at first, but he ended up supporting it.

“As I spent the last six weeks studying it in detail, I determined that the downsides of doing nothing were worse than the upsides of being active,” said Shirkey.

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