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      Snyder pushes health care expansion; Casperson responds

      Sen. Tom Casperson visits with guests on Tuesday afternoon at the Coachlight Restaurant in Marquette.

      Michigan Governor Rick Snyder's campaign for expanded Medicaid coverage in Michigan continued Tuesday morning in Marquette. The Republican leader spoke at Marquette General Hospital.

      Governor Snyder wants to expand eligibility for government-provided health insurance to 320,000 low-income adults next year. In June, the state House approved legislation that would make that happen, but the state Senate adjourned earlier this month without voting on the measure.

      Now the governor is pleading for them to take action. His message to the Senate is simple.

      "This is our opportunity to step up and take care of several hundred-thousand Michiganders, who don't have insurance, they're hardworking people, but they're caught in a difficult case, because using the E.R. isn't a good answer for them or for us, so let's get this solved," Snyder said.

      On Tuesday morning at MGH, business leaders and healthcare workers also explained why they support expanding Medicaid. Marquette General Hospital CEO Gary Muller said his hospital sees many patients who turn down medical care they need because of the cost.

      "They get whatever the doctors order, but quite honestly, some people don't want to worry about a bill, and when people come, they might not get a test that they probably should have," Muller said.

      Snyder believes expanding Medicaid will lead to lower premiums for paying patients.

      "By moving someone from the E.R. to a physician relationship where they can get a physical, they can get immunizations, they're going to be healthier, and that costs us all less money. That's just common sense, think about it," he said.

      Some conservative senators have said the bill would further expand government. State Senator Tom Casperson (R-38th District) was also in Marquette on Tuesday for a gathering with fellow Republicans and U.S. Senate Candidate Terri Lynn Land. He said he could support the expansion if more accountability is added and if people receiving the benefits buy into them. Casperson said the Senate only had five days to consider the House bill.

      "We need a little more time, give us some time to work on it," Casperson said. "It's contentious; it's very passionate on both sides of the issue. Let us work through it."

      State Representative John Kivela (D-109th District) voted for the bill in the house and hopes to see Casperson do the same.

      "I think he's got a little bit of work to do to get into that position, but that's up to him. I would encourage people to reach out to the Senator with their opinions," Kivela said.

      A bi-partisan group of senators is meeting weekly, looking at possible revisions to the House version of the bill. The whole senate meets again on Wednesday, July 17, but Casperson said he doesn't expect the Senate to take a vote until the fall.

      Governor Snyder encouraged people to contact Casperson and other senators. He has also set-up an online petition where people can show their support for expanding Medicaid.

      Governor Snyder will visit GS Engineering in Houghton on Wednesday to discuss more of the Healthy Michigan plan with employees and small-business stakeholders. The visit is planned for 9:15 a.m. Watch for continuing coverage on and on Wednesday evening's TV6 Early News.