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Final Michigan budget omits Medicaid expansion money

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LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan lawmakers on Tuesday finished sending Gov. Rick Snyder a $48.7 billion state budget.

The bill, Michigan House Bill 4328, leaves out $2.5 billion in new spending Snyder had proposed for road repairs and participating in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) Medicaid expansion program.

The Republican governor vowed to keep pushing the initiatives, but it’s becoming increasingly likely the GOP-led Legislature may not act before starting a summer break, if at all.

“I’m not really sure,” Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, Mich., told reporters when asked if legislators could raise more revenue for road upkeep this month. “It’s possible that we could consider something late in the summer or early in the fall, too.”

Talks also will continue about whether and how to make 320,000 more adults eligible for Medicaid in January 2014 — which Snyder and Democrats say makes common sense but is dividing majority GOP lawmakers in part because it’s an expansion of government under PPACA.

The Senate’s mostly party-line 24-14 passage of a $33.6 billion spending bill was the last legislative action needed before Snyder signs the budget as early as next week, less than four months before the fiscal year starts in October. 

Another budget highlight: The state will extend dental coverage to 70,500 more Medicaid-eligible children in Ingham, Ottawa and Washtenaw counties. When the new budget kicks in Oct. 1, the Healthy Kids Dental program will be available in 78 of 83 counties in Michigan.

“I think this is the best budget I’ve been a part of. I really do,” said Richardville, saying it’s the third straight year the budget is done about four months before the fiscal year begins. “Six hundred million dollars now is in the savings account. We put more money toward education than we have in recent years, for sure.”

Richardville said senators will not just “rubber-stamp” federal programs like Medicaid.

All 12 Democratic senators and two of 26 Republicans voted against the budget measure Tuesday.

Democrats criticized the GOP for balking at Medicaid expansion — which could cut Michigan’s number of uninsured in half by 2021.

Democrats said Republicans are listening too much to Tea Party enthusiasts instead of to Snyder and business leaders who support Medicaid expansion.

“The most glaring omission is that failure to expand Medicaid to nearly a half-million low-income Michiganders who don’t have health care,”  said Sen. Steve Bieda, a Warren Democrat. “That leaves our citizens out in the cold because of our failure to act.”

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