Snyder spent the summer traveling to GOP senators' districts to push publicly for Medicaid expansion, and pro-expansion allies paid for billboards calling on Republican senators by name to support the expansion. But in the end, a lot depends on one senator: Majority Leader Randy Richardville.
The Monroe Republican supports the expansion but decided against calling a vote in June despite a request from Snyder. The governor said enough Republicans would have joined 12 Democrats to pass the bill. Richardville said he wanted at least half the 26-member Republican caucus to support the bill or at least be OK proceeding to a vote and later said he saved the legislation from going down in defeat.
As promised, Richardville took time to name a workgroup and hold hearings on the House-passed legislation that resulted in changes to the bill.
Though it doesn't appear that Snyder has picked up more support — some Republicans thought to be on the fence now seem firmly opposed — his aides remain confident they have eight Republicans votes to get the 20 needed. If only seven Republicans support the bill, then Lt. Gov. Brian Calley could break the 19-19 tie.
Asked recently if he will drop his preference that more Republicans be receptive to having an up-or-down vote, Richardville said: "If I believe it's the right thing to do, I'll do that."
One factor causing unease among proponents of the expansion: Richardville's committee also sent to the floor two conservative alternatives designed to cover the uninsured without expanding Medicaid. The Snyder administration questions the cost of the proposals and has concerns with the quality of health benefits that would be offered.