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Interview With Gov. Whitmer: Coronavirus Orders, Elections, Healthcare

Governor Gretchen Whitmer - file photo by Gordon Evans, WMUK
Gordon Evans

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer fears the appointment of Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court could spell the end of the Affordable Care Act, she said in a wide-ranging, live intervew today with WMUK Local Morning Edition Host Earlene McMichael.

"It does look as though if Donald Trump appoints this judge to the Supreme Court that the ACA could go away and that would rip healthcare away from millions in our country and 800,000 here in Michigan," Whitmer said this morning in the 10-minute interview.

Whitmer, who was in the Kalamazoo area for a healthcare roundtable and to campaign for State House candidates, said it's crucial to protect the Affordable Care Act.

She said the Healthy Michigan plan, which began under Gov. Rick Snyder in 2013, has been expanded under her administration, adding that she hopes state lawmakers will take steps to "codify some aspects of it" especially in light of the country being under a pandemic.

During the live telephone interview with McMichael, Whitmer also expressed concern that her executive order extending unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 crisis could be in jeopardy in the wake of last Friday's State Supreme Court opinion that she exceeded the limits of her emergency powers. 

The court ruled that she should not have continued to declare states of emergency and issue executive orders past April 30, when her first declaration expired.  

"The legislature needs to come back to town and work with me to make sure these hundreds of thousands of people and (their) families that I'm talking about don't fall through the cracks," said Whitmer, referring to people receiving unemployment benefits under an order she signed. 

Whitmer said she has "a number of different levers" as governor that she can still use to keep fighting to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the cases of which are starting to rise again.  She pointed to her authority to appoint the director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

"He's already promulgated a number of rules that have the force of law--a mask mandate as well as gathering limitations," Whitmer said. 

"I do anticipate that there will be more coming from his epidemic authority and we're going to continue to work close with him. So, that is just one example of a way that we will continue to keep people safe in this moment."

The interview also covered early education and K-12 educational issues.

Earlene McMichael was WMUK's local host of NPR's Morning Edition from August 2012 through October 2021. A former, long-time Kalamazoo Gazette editor, reporter, and columnist, she was a news anchor at WHCU-FM when it was owned by Cornell University, her alma mater.