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Michigan Republican Governor Wants Medicaid Expansion

By Rebecca Adams, CQ HealthBeat Associate Editor

February 6, 2013 -- Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder recently joined five other Republican governors in supporting an expansion of Medicaid in his state.

Republican's control both chambers of the Michigan legislature, so it's unclear whether those lawmakers will go along with Snyder's recommendation. But Snyder made a pitch for broadening the program at a news conference in Michigan last week and is expected to provide more information in his upcoming budget.

The expansion would allow about 470,000 more uninsured low-income people to qualify for Medicaid, according to the state. Currently, 1.9 million people receive Medicaid benefits.

The addition of Michigan brings the count of states whose governors who have expressed interest in expanding the health care program for the poor to 22, plus officials in the District of Columbia. Eleven Republican governors have rejected the idea. The Republican governors who would like to expand are in Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota and Ohio. Thirty states currently have GOP governors.

"While this is a federal program that we would not have necessarily created for Michigan, it is critical that the state control its implementation," Snyder said in a statement. "Failure to go through with the expansion means that Michigan tax dollars will go to cover health care costs for other states that do take part. We can ensure the program remains financially stable and guard against changes in the federal commitment."

For states that do expand, the federal government will pick up the entire cost of covering the new beneficiaries for the first three years. That federal match will phase down to 90 percent of the costs in 2020.

Snyder's announcement came a day after Pennsylvania Republican Tom Corbett said he could "not recommend" the expansion of Medicaid in his budget proposal. Earlier in the week, Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich said he does support expansion.

Patient advocates praised the decision.

"The commitments today and on Monday by governors in Michigan and Ohio to expand their states' Medicaid programs will provide needed health coverage for well over a million uninsured people," Families USA executive director Ron Pollack said in a statement. "It is also indicative of an inevitable movement that will ultimately result in Medicaid expansions in all states across the country."

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