Hey, Republicans, are you listening?
The percentage of Michigan residents covered by health insurance through their job has dropped from 78.1 percent in 2000 to 62.9 percent in 2011 according to a new report out by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. That’s the second highest decline in the entire country, second only to South Carolina.
The study was done to get baseline information prior to the implementation of many of the core components of the Affordable Care Act (ACA or “Obamacare”) so that we’ll have something to compare to as the ACA is rolled out.
Some of the key findings:
- The decline is due mainly to escalating costs of insurance
- Michiganders saw the biggest increase in the nation in the share of their costs for coverage
- The greatest losses in worker health-care coverage were among Michigan’s low-income residents
- About 14.7 percent of Michiganders near the poverty level lost workplace coverage between 2000 and 2011, while just 3.9 percent of people with the highest incomes lost workplace coverage
The article points out that the ACA may provide some relief as would Medicaid expansion should Republicans actually allow that to happen. However, that seems highly unlikely given the extremists in our state legislature who care less about poor people having health care coverage than they do about appeasing their tea party base:
Help might come next year, when the most sweeping provisions of the federal Affordable Care Act click into place. By then, every employer with more than 50 workers will have to offer insurance or pay a penalty. As for those who still don’t have insurance, state health exchanges will provide affordable options. Under the law, people who have pre-existing conditions would not be turned down for coverage, and there will be no lifetime limits on benefits.
Medicaid also could expand to cover more of the state’s poor residents.
The article quotes a director of a Detroit health care provider who says the demographics of people without health care insurance have changed from people who were born poor to those who have become poor:
Sister Mary Ellen Howard has been director of the Cabrini Clinic in Detroit for 18 years.
“When I first came, the patients we were providing care for were born into poverty. … But the patients we see now did not grow up in poverty. They grew up middle-class. They’ve lost their jobs, maybe their homes,” she said.
In a sane, rational environment, lawmakers would look at these numbers are realize they need to do more to help the working poor in this state by expanding Medicaid coverage. Unfortunately, it appears that Michigan Republicans are neither and I suspect we’ll see them double down on denying hundreds of thousands of struggling Michiganders coverage under an expanded Medicaid system. There’s nothing in their recent past that suggests they will do otherwise.