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Michigan Senate set to vote on expanding Medicaid under Obamacare

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder talks about the city of Detroit being in a financial emergency state during a meeting with an invited audience
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder talks about the city of Detroit being in a financial emergency state during a meeting with an invited audience

(Reuters) - The Michigan state Senate is expected to vote as early as Tuesday on a bill to expand Medicaid, the health program for the poor, under President Barack Obama's healthcare reform law.

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder broke with other Republican governors this year to support Medicaid expansion through Obamacare, and the Senate is expected to approve a version of a bill passed by the state House in June.

Republicans hold a 26-12 majority in the Senate, where Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville believes he has the support to approve the measure in a vote on Tuesday or Wednesday, his spokeswoman Amber McCann said.

Fewer than half of Senate Republicans are expected to vote for the bill, but Senate Democrats have pledged their support. If there is a 19-19 tie, Republican Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley is expected to break a tie in favor of the expansion.

Because it differs from the version approved by the House in June, the Senate bill, if approved, would return to the House for a final vote before it could go to the governor to be signed into law.

The measure would infuse the state budget with billions of dollars in federal funding to pay for it.

An additional 325,000 people would be covered in fiscal 2013-14 with $1.7 billion of federal funding, increasing to more than 400,000 people the following fiscal year, according to a Michigan Senate Fiscal Agency analysis.

The Affordable Care Act expands Medicaid coverage to otherwise ineligible individuals and families who earn up to 133 percent of the federal poverty line, about $15,500 for a single adult and $26,500 for a family of three in 2014.

Snyder has said the program would save taxpayers and businesses money while improving the quality of life for people not currently covered.

Medicaid expansion is one of the healthcare law's biggest provisions. But a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year allows states to opt out. As of August 1, 23 states and Washington had accepted the expansion, while 21 states had turned it down, according to the consulting group Avalere Health.

(Reporting by David Bailey; Editing by Xavier Briand)

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