JIM CREES: Senators need more time to talk about Medicaid?

Summer break: Sen. Randy Richardville claims that more time is needed before a decision can be made about the Medicare bill. (Courtesy photo)
Summer break: Sen. Randy Richardville claims that more time is needed before a decision can be made about the Medicare bill. (Courtesy photo)

So... the Michigan legislature has gone home for the summer.

Great. I hope the guys who are constantly criticizing Michigan public school teachers for only working a part of the year have a fine vacation after working less than the teachers.

I guess the difference is that those teachers the GOP legislators so regularly criticize for being wildly overpaid actually finish the work demanded of them before they go home for the summer break.

The legislators??? Not so much.

Michigan senators, for example, hit the road before they ever got around to voting on the Medicaid expansion plan.

Now, I’m not suggesting (God forbid!) how the good senators should have voted — yes or no.

I am suggesting they should have voted one way or the other — finished the job before they started their vacations.

Here’s the deal.

The Medicaid expansion program is designed to help lots of Michiganders get better health care coverage than they have at this point in time.

And let me be clear, we are talking about working folks.

The idea behind the expansion bill is to bring down high health care expenses for both doctors and local hospitals and help bring down the cost of public health care to taxpayers.

Now understand, Michigan already provides Medicaid health care coverage to all sorts of low-income residents — mainly children, pregnant women, and people with a variety of disabilities.

What is under discussion in the new Medicaid expansion bill is extending Medicaid coverage to other low-income individuals and families — including those who are working but not making enough to coverage insurance payments.

Passage of the bill, would mean that well over 600,000 additional Michigan residents would receive some form of health care coverage. And, by the way, this coverage would be at no cost to taxpayers through the year 2020.

It does, admittedly, mean accepting a chunk of money from the federal government. That apparently makes some people nervous.

Still, Republican Governor Rick Snyder backs the expansion, as does a whole slew of doctors, hospitals, health care systems, the Small Business Association of Mitigation, and the Michigan Chamber of Commerce.

There are a lot of people throwing their support behind this expansion proposal — people who know about health care, the cost of health care, budgets, numbers, and government.

The whole idea seems like a good plan all around. For example, it was pointed out to legislators that moving forward with the Medicaid expansion plan in Michigan would see a cash flow into the state of some $20 billion. (That’s $20,000,000,000!)

The expansion would also help create even more jobs in Michigan’s largest single employment sector — health care — to the tune of some 18,000 new jobs.

The governor’s office (NB: Not me, the bleeding heart liberal journalist, but rather the Republican governor) has pointed out that passage of the bill would save taxpayers in this state some $1.2 billion in tax-payer funded health care reimbursements.

It would also save hospitals a HUGE amount of money in lost, uncompensated health care expenses — something like $880 million per year. That in itself would drive health care costs down.

So, if the Republican governor, and any number of fiscally conservative organizations actually back the plan, why did the senators head home before acting on it?

Well, the head of Michigan’s Senate Randy Richardville said “We need more time to talk about it.”

Really? REALLY!!??!!

Are you serious?

This is the one bill you guys have left on the table that can categorically improve the lives of Michiganders across the board, and you need to talk about it some more?

Talk about what?

Everything is pretty much out in the open.

The federal government isn’t hiding anything.

The plan is pretty straightforward.

The governor understands the plan.

Hospitals and health care providers understand the plan.

Even the Michigan Chamber of Commerce understands and supports the plan.

Why don’t the senators who still don’t understand the expansion, simply ask someone who does? Instead, the guys just go home???

I might suggest that the reason they headed home so... mildly... turning their backs on this important piece of legislation is because they are afraid of a backlash from “the base.”

Too many of our GOP legislators still worry far too much about their Tea Party base back home, and don’t worry nearly enough about just doing the right thing — the right thing for Michigan and the right thing for their constituents.

What’s surprising is that while they worry about “the base,” their REAL base — moderate Republicans and thinking independents — are getting more and more upset over the silly lack of action when real action is needed.

But our state senators “ ...need more time to talk about it.’

I’ll bet you our teachers would love “... more time to talk about it” — whatever “it” might be.

But then, no one is out to evaluate the senators like they will be evaluating the teachers.