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Bridge Michigan
Michigan’s nonpartisan, nonprofit news source

Where Michigan governor candidates stand on Obamacare, other health issues

In the race for Michigan governor, there are sharp differences between GOP Attorney General Bill Schuette and Democratic former Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer on the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid expansion, Medicaid work requirements and other health issues. Here are the highlights:

AFFORDABLE CARE ACT

Bill Schuette

As Michigan Attorney General, Bill Schuette has steadfastly opposed the Affordable Care Act, marshalling the resources of his office to file suit against the law, often in tandem with conservative attorneys general from other states.

But since vanquishing his Republican primary rivals in early August, his campaign has been more restrained in its rhetoric, including being more equivocal about his previously stated opposition to Healthy Michigan.

Asked by Bridge Magazine on Aug. 23 if Schuette would sign a bill repealing Healthy Michigan, campaign spokesman John Sellek declined to answer the question directly. Instead, Sellek stated: “As governor, Bill will review all spending programs that are currently enacted under Michigan law.”

Gretchen Whitmer

Whitmer is an unreserved supporter of the ACA. She issued this statement to Bridge: “Everyone deserves access to quality, affordable health care and the ACA established guaranteed coverage for pre-existing conditions and expanded essential coverage benefits that many people didn't have before.”

  • While the Trump administration has cut back federal funding to market and help consumers navigate health care options, Whitmer said she’d consider strategies like that of New York, which invested $7 million in ads for Obamacare and boosted enrollment by 4.2 percent: “As governor, I would be open to using marketing strategies like information campaigns to make sure Michiganders know where to purchase affordable health coverage that protects pre-existing conditions.”
  • Whitmer joined 11 Democrats and eight Republicans in 2013 in voting to expand Medicaid for low-income Michigan residents under the ACA. She told Bridge in a statement: “As Senate Democratic Leader, I worked across the aisle to expand Medicaid to over 680,000 Michiganders through Healthy Michigan. As governor, I'll take on Schuette, Trump and Republicans who threaten our health coverage, protect people with pre-existing conditions and work to make healthcare more affordable for all Michigan families.”

COVERAGE FOR PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS

Enactment of the ACA brought with it the guarantee that people with pre-existing medical conditions could obtain health insurance coverage.

Bill Schuette

Gretchen Whitmer

Whitmer’s backing of the ACA underscores her support for its mandate that insurance companies may not discriminate against those with pre-existing conditions.

MEDICAID WORK REQUIREMENTS

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed a measure in June requiring certain Medicaid recipients in Michigan to work a prescribed number of hours or risk losing coverage.

Bill Schuette

Campaign spokesman Sellek said: “Bill supports Medicaid work requirements for able-bodied people.”

Gretchen Whitmer

Whitmer opposes Medicaid work requirements, stating: “This legislation will take health care away from tens of thousands of Michigan families, which will hurt our whole economy. By supporting this shameful legislation, Bill Schuette has made it crystal clear that he's not on the side of working families.”

OPIOID CRISIS

Bill Schuette

Gretchen Whitmer

  • As governor, Whitmer said she would issue a state of emergency over the opiate epidemic. In a November policy speech, she said she wants to “develop the best opioid treatment centers in the country” and called for greater funding for hospitals and medical centers in northern Michigan, where rural counties have been hit hard.
  • She also advocated for public awareness initiatives and greater mental health funding, and asked pharmaceutical companies to lower prices for newer, less addictive opiates.

She said she would partner with law enforcement and pharmacies to expand drug take-back programs and support investment in drug treatment courts to “make sure that people with addictions could get connected to treatment, instead of going to jail.”

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