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Published: Tuesday, 2/12/2013

Right on Medicaid

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s popularity has taken a major hit, especially since last November’s elections. But the governor’s decision to expand the state’s Medicaid program begins to restore his reputation for pragmatic problem-solving.

After Mr. Snyder said right-to-work legislation was “not on my agenda,” he changed his mind and rammed anti-uinion measures through the Legislature in a day. After voters overturned a law that gave emergency financial managers of local governments and school districts broad new powers, he got lame-duck lawmakers to approve a new law that restored most of those powers.

At the same time, some of his fellow Republicans were miffed when, after the Connecticut school massacre in December, he vetoed a bill that would have prevented schools and day-care centers from banning concealed weapons. He also vetoed legislation that would have blocked Michigan insurers from automatically offering abortion coverage.

Now Governor Snyder has made another dramatic decision that deserves legislative approval as soon as possible: He wants to expand Medicaid to nearly half a million uninsured Michigan adults. This makes tremendous human and economic sense for his state.

Washington will pay all of Michigan’s additional expenses for the first three years. After that, the state will never pay more than 10 percent of the total cost.

Uninsured Michiganians often use hospital emergency rooms as their clinic of last resort. The cost of this expensive care is largely passed along to consumers who have health insurance. Expanding Medicaid will mean a healthier work force — a benefit to employers.

Incredibly, it is not clear whether lawmakers will approve the Medicaid expansion. Some right-wing ideologues oppose any expansion of Medicaid, despite its economic sense. And some Democrats, bitter over what they see as Mr. Snyder’s betrayals, are not inclined to vote for anything he supports, even if it helps their constituents.

Both sides need to grow up. Extending Medicaid is essential for a state that is trying to regain its competitive edge. Michigan lawmakers should pass the expansion as quickly as they enacted business tax cuts over the past two years.

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