15 October 2013


Story first appeared in The Detroit News.

Lansing— Lawmakers must pass corrective legislation that could spark another squabble over Medicaid expansion, the Senate’s appropriations chairman says.

“I would hope that people want it to go reasonably smoothly ... (but) some might say we’re not done fighting,” said Sen. Roger Kahn, R-Saginaw.

Follow-up legislation is needed because the Senate backers didn’t win immediate effect for the Medicaid act Snyder signed into law Sept. 16. It will make more than 400,000 additional state residents, earning 100 to 133 percent of the federal poverty guideline, eligible for government-funded health care.

The legislation can’t take effect until about three months into 2014, so state lawmakers have to come up with $70 million to cover Medicaid mental health services during that period. Had the expansion taken effect immediately, the coverage cost would have transferred to the federal government Jan. 1.

The Senate Fiscal Agency says cleanup legislation also is needed to revise downward by $500 million the amount of federal Medicaid funds received and spent this fiscal year. The bill specifies $1.7 billion, but the three-month delay will reduce the amount to around $1.1 billion or $1.2 billion, according to fiscal agency analysts.

The $70 million outlay and the technical adjustment through what’s termed a “negative supplemental appropriation” of $500 million could be wrapped into a single bill.

Lawmakers probably would take up the legislative proposal in about five weeks, Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, told the press last week. He said Kahn would craft the proposal.

“There’s a fair amount of accounting work to be done,” Kahn said. “I would imagine before it gets ramped up, there will need to be a discussion between Richardville, (House Speaker Jase) Bolger and (Gov. Rick) Snyder.”

A spokeswoman for Sen. Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton, whose staunch opposition nearly prevented passage of the Medicaid expansion, said he wasn’t available for comment Friday.

Spokesman Ari Adler said it had been Bolger’s understanding nothing much more than the $70 million appropriation was needed as a follow-up. The $500 million is “just gone ... (and) we don’t need to take any action on it,” he added.

“Either way, this should not be seen as some sort of proxy on Medicaid reforms,” Adler said. “The policy debate was already held, the votes were cast and the outcome is done.”

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