Susan J. Demas: Can Gov. Snyder Save Part of Obamacare?

Gov. Rick Snyder is jetting off to Washington, D.C., this week on a dual mission. The Republican governor, who was a vocal critic of Donald Trump during the presidential campaign and refused to endorsement, will make nice by attending the inauguration.

But he’ll also be pushing back against part of one of the new president’s biggest priorities: repealing Obamacare. Snyder is also set to attend a GOP roundtable on Medicaid, which was expanded under Obamacare.

During his first term, Snyder dueled with many conservative members of his party to shepherd the Medicaid expansion through the Legislature. He doesn’t want Congress to scrap it. He will, no doubt, sell the reform aspects of the “Healthy Michigan” plan as a conservative alternative to how Medicaid operates in other states.

Now 640,000 Michiganders have Medicaid coverage under Obamacare, which shattered all expectations. And Rick Snyder is their best hope for keeping their health care.

There are roughly 240,000 Michigan residents on top of that who gained health insurance under Obamacare, according to, the nationally acclaimed site tracking data run by Bloomfield Hills web designer Charles Gaba. That’s thanks to measures like health care exchanges aimed at those without employer-based plans, the ban on insurance companies refusing coverage due to preexisting condition, and the provision allowing those up to age 26 to stay on their parents’ health plans.

In total, about 885,000 Michiganders gained health insurance under Obamacare. So roughly 9 percent of Michigan’s population could lose their coverage if the law is repealed.

If Snyder can help sell Trump and Republicans in Congress on keeping the Medicaid expansion, that would make a huge difference for Michigan. But it still isn’t clear what will happen to the more than a quarter-million people who obtained insurance outside Medicaid, many of whom are small business owners who have long struggled to find affordable coverage. It will be interesting to see if Snyder and other Republicans advocate for them, as well.

Snyder spent much of his seventh State of the State address this week touting the state’s economic comeback, his favorite theme.

But the governor clearly recognizes that state’s recovery could be jeopardized if 9 percent of Michiganders suddenly lose coverage under the GOP Obamacare repeal. No doubt he and other governors on the front lines will forcefully make that case, both at the roundtable and behind closed doors.

We’ll have to see if President Trump and the Republican Congress ultimately decide to listen.

Susan J. Demas is Publisher and Editor of Inside Michigan Politics, a nationally acclaimed, biweekly political newsletter. Her political columns can be found at Follow her on Twitter here.