Where Michigan governor candidates stand on Obamacare, other health issues

Michigan Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette has repeatedly sued over his opposition to the Affordable Care Act. His policy differences with Democratic rival for governor Gretchen Whitmer promise to be hotly debated in the campaign.

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:


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.”


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.


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.”


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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Erwin Haas
Tue, 09/11/2018 - 11:48am

I must have missed Libertarian major party candidate Bill Gelineau’s contribution to this exposition. I’m running for Michigan’s 26th senate district so have my own platform which I suspect tracks Bill’s closely.

The Affordable Care Act is above all, not affordable. It was written by the insurance, hospital and pharmaceutical industries to insulate themselves from the marketplace. Costs have skyrocketed.

First, the insurance coverage which has purportedly been extended to an additional 30 million Americans. But the premiums for most Americans have skyrocketed and push many families into poverty or bankruptcy. The most telling observation is that the newly insured and those forced to buy insurance for coverage that they could never use, are unable to get medical care because they can’t afford the co-pays. These-now constructively cut off from medical care-are never counted because the victims suffer in silence and exposing their numbers might cause the political elites and their media lapdogs discomfort. I propose that 50 million Americans have lost medical care in the net. Dispute my numbers if you dare.

Second, the hospitals continue to buy up physician practices, drug and medical equipment outlets and smaller rivals. They use these monopsony and monopoly powers to dominate their market places. They use arcane billing codes to defraud private payers, medicare and medicaid and even insurance companies, and that ain’t small potatoes.

Third, drug companies’ prices have become insane. Allopurinol was around when I was in medical school in the 60s. It cost 10 dollars a month in the 80s. I just noticed that in now costs 57 dollars a month. Usually making something for 50 years becomes cheaper.
I recently heard about “T CAR” the latest thing in cancer treatment. It has an astonishing cure rate, but 40% of folks die of the treatment, it costs 500,000 per person and the patient’s immune system is destroyed. They need immunoglobulin shots for life and are subject to lethal infections caused by brewer’s yeast or even bread mold.
McCain, T. Kennedy, Paul Henry lived an extra 6 months with brain cancers- steroidal, headachy, confused, and constantly in their doctor’s offices and hospital. Where is the joy?
What has boosted this price except the power of the drug company to charge what the insurance companies, the ones that have no reason to worry about costs, will pay?

I will note that Obama care came into full force in 2013 and that the US lifespans dropped for the first time the next year; they have continued to decline. Free medical care, so dear to the hearts of our betters, is killing us.

We Libertarians take the long view. Medical care costs (You’ll have to dig around this long but very detailed article) were low and were about 4% of the GDP in 1965 and people liked what they got. Then came Medicare and Medicaid and costs went into the stratosphere, 8.4% in 1983 and now approaching 17% of GDP after Bush 43’s drug bennies and Obamacare. Enough people were angry enough to eject the ACA perpetrators in 2016.

I’m running for Michigan’s 26th Senate and Bill for governor and we are not as inert as the Democrats and Republicans here seem to be. There are things that we can do to cut medical costs (the only real goal here) at the state level.
Medical Certificate of Need regulations add 10% to costs and should be abolished. We can also encourage insurance companies from out of state to compete here. The auto insurance rates include health insurance with the most outlandish benefits forcing our insurance rates in Michigan to be the second highest in the land. We can open up competition for delivery of medical care by allowing all sorts of paraprofessionals to practice medicine.
But good luck in passing these reforms; the monied interests will try to destroy us. They already own Schuette and Whitmer and channel the conversation at Bridgmi into the wasteland of what should not be a concern of our government in the first place.

Wed, 09/12/2018 - 9:42am

Libertarians continue to live in fantasy land where soulless corporations are good actors and the free market solves all...

Benjamin Bachrach
Tue, 09/11/2018 - 1:04pm

Your article does not include information from all the Governor candidates.
Bill Gellineau and Jennifer Kurland are also on the ballot.

Sherry A. Wells
Tue, 09/18/2018 - 11:49am

I, too, was more than disappointed that Third Party candidates were omitted. Jennifer V. Kurland is the Green Party of Michigan nominee and supports health care for all. As the Greens' candidate for State Board of Education, so do I. "Poverty is the biggest obstacle in education," and that includes no real access to adequate food and clean water, much less health care. The U.S. Constitution states that a purpose of government is to "promote the general welfare," (before "welfare" was made to be a negative word). A healthy population makes for a strong country.

Tue, 09/11/2018 - 1:09pm

The opiate crisis will continue to explode as long as the Republicans control the White House and Congress. What has been done since Trump was elected? Nothing. First it was Jared's job (once he brought peace to the Middle East) now it's Kelly Ann Conway's job (!?).

Ironic since many Trump supporting states have the biggest opiate populations - Trump and the GOP don't care really but like ignorant people to think they're doing something.

Schuette will do nothing and the crisis will continue to grow.

Jason Brandenbu...
Tue, 09/11/2018 - 7:44pm

Hey Bridge,

If you havn’t heard yet, there are more than 2 candidates/2 political parties making a serious run to be Michigan’s next Governor. You claim to be in search of the “truth” when it comes to these candidates. Why do you continue to ignore the other alternatives that Michigan voters have in 2018? The blatant omission of Bill Gelineau from your coverage makes me think you are more corporate than you would have your readers believe.