GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - Gov. Rick Snyder visited the 24 Hour News 8 studio Thursday evening for a town hall meeting to discuss everything from Detroit's finances to new Common Core education standards.
==Watch the entire town hall meeting "The State of Michigan: Your Money, Your Voice" above.==
But the town hall meeting started with an issue that is contentious even within party lines: the expansion of Medicaid.
The Republican governor supports expanding the program to up to 500,000 more people in Michigan. But many other Republicans -- especially those in the Senate -- are reluctant to go with the plan based in the federal Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare.
Snyder again supported the plan at the town hall, saying that it makes sense and that the ACA isn't a yes or no issue.
"It's about the health of Michiganders," he said. "Healthy Michigan is a good thing for Michigan."
He said expanding Medicaid will decrease use of emergency rooms by lower-income people who don't have health care insurance. He said encouraging more preventative care will lower health care costs.
"This would actually save us money as Michiganders," he said. "Why wouldn't we do it? We should just simply get it done."
And, he pointed out, the Michigan plan -- called Healthy Michigan -- is not the "vanilla" plan provided by the federal government. It is a bipartisan plan worked out by the Michigan House of Representatives that would ask users to "take more interest in their own health care."
But Republican Sen. Patrick Colbeck (R-Wayne County) maintains that it's not a good idea.
"It's a path to governmental control over everybody's health care, and the second part is it actually costs more money from the standpoint of the government," he said.
The topic then turned to the Common Core Standards, the funding for which was recently blocked in the legislature despite 2010 approval of the nationwide standards.
The governor also supports that program.
"You can't have a common standard if you don't have a goal in mind," mother Karen Braun told the governor during the event.
He countered by saying the Common Core standards are more rigorous that Michigan's current benchmarks.
"Common Core is about a set of standards to keep us globally competitive," he said.
But that wasn't good enough for Braun.
"I would say he still needs to explain to the people of Michigan why copyrighted standards owned by his trade association, the national governor's association that he is a member of, own public school standards," she said. "It is unconscionable to me that the State of Michigan has ceded control of our standards, high or low or whatever, to an unelected, unaccounted-for board."
After the meeting, 24 Hour News 8 asked the governor another question about the standards that came from a viewer via ReportIt: How can we have common standards if districts aren't funded equally.
"The goal is to have standards and then have people work toward reaching those standards with local control," Snyder said. "We do have an issue in our state with some districts having more money than others in a historical fashion. We've been trying to fix that."
And after the meeting ended, 24 Hour News 8 asked the governor a few more questions that viewers had posed.
One person asked why the state didn't turn I-94 into a toll road.
"It's called a freeway for a reason," the governor said. "We took federal dollars going back to the 1950s. So in order to turn it into a toll we would have to pay all that money back to the federal government."
Another viewer asked why health insurance is so expensive in Michigan.
Snyder said Michigan historically has had very "rich in benefits" health care plans. Though more costly, members get more for their money. He then cited new recent concepts that would mean more financial responsibility falling on patients.
The town hall will re-air in its entirety this Sunday at 10 a.m. on WOOD TV8.
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