Casperson talks Medicaid expansion

State Senator Tom Casperson discussed issues in the Michigan legislature with a small group of people in Ishpeming Wednesday night.

Casperson on a number of issues, especially education, Medicaid, and transportation.

One bill Casperson told residents concerns Medicaid expansion, allowing people who are the working poor a chance to get healthcare coverage.

“They’re (the working poor) are working, and they just don’t have enough money, and aren’t making enough money to really cover healthcare premiums, and so they’re out there, they’re working, they’re trying to make things work for themselves and their families, but they don’t have any healthcare coverage,” Casperson said.

“This program is designed to try and capture some of those folks to give them the ability to get into something, possibly, that they can afford.  There will be some buy-in to it, it won’t be given out, but there will be some buy-in.”

Casperson said a working committee has been discussing the proposal this summer in the Senate.  A House version of the bill, along with two other versions, have been sent out of the committee to the full legislature floor.  Casperson said they will be looking over the bills in the next few weeks, with the possibility of a vote coming as soon as September.

Casperson also talked about finding funding to fix Michigan’s roads.  Michigan currently has a 6% sales tax on gas that goes towards education, and one proposal would be to use that 6% to fund roads, and increase the state’s sales tax by 1%.

“All of the money then (collected from gas tax) would go to straight to the infrastructure through Act 51, which gets dispersed to the roads and to transportation issues that we have in the State of Michigan,” Casperson said.

“But now, we’ve got a hole of funding for education.  The way to back-fill that would be propose–and that’s one of the proposals, there’s others, but that’s one of them–is to propose a 1% increase in the sales tax, which would offset that difference.”

Casperson also touched on the importance of encouraging vocational education and implementing ways to help students who want to learn trades instead of going to a four year college or university.