Michigan Republicans — April 13, 2013 at 9:42 am

Medicaid Expansion for Dummies, Part 1


The Michigan GOP doesn’t seem to get why Medicaid expansion is good for Michigan. Time for them to hit the books.

NOTE: Part 2 of this two-part series can be found HERE.

Medicaid expansion isn’t exactly elementary. Then again, it’s not rocket science, either.

Members of the Michigan GOP have said they just haven’t had time to look into all the details of Medicaid expansion so they can make an educated decision. For now, let’s ignore the fact that they apparently needed no time at all to examine Right-to-Work (For Less) before making it a state law. Let’s also ignore the fact that they were clearly counting on the Supreme Court to overturn the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, so they didn’t bother doing their homework.

Instead, let’s educate them on why Medicaid expansion is the right thing to do for Michigan. Even Governor Rick Snyder thinks so — and he says he’s still determined, even after losing another round in the budget battle.

Pssst: Pass it on. Share these facts widely, especially with your Republican representatives. Clearly, they can use some tutoring.

Medicaid expansion is good for the health of Michigan’s citizens.

Medicaid expansion would give as many as 730,000 uninsured Michiganders the chance to enroll in Medicaid — 300,000 in 2014 alone. This would provide better access to preventive care, which means fewer people going to emergency rooms for routine care. That’s not what ERs are for. Without the continuity of care people get from a primary care physician, they just keep getting sick again and wind up back in the ER. It’s a vicious circle that leads to deteriorating health, especially in people with chronic conditions like diabetes, asthma or heart disease.

Still not convinced? A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine predicts a significant reduction in deaths in states that adopt Medicaid expansion.

What’s more, healthier people are more productive, which is good for businesses and the state’s economy. Many citizens who will be eligible for Medicaid under expansion are the working poor — and may well include those being thrown off employer insurance at a staggering rate in Michigan — so providing them with health insurance can foster higher productivity.

Medicaid expansion reduces or eliminates the costs of  treating the uninsured.

ER visits are absurdly expensive compared to routine care visits. According to the excellent Sarah Kliff of the Washington Post, an ER visit costs more than an average month’s rent. When the uninsured go to the ER, who pays those bills? Many of those costs are passed on to businesses and individuals who do buy insurance. They’re also absorbed by hospitals who take on patients regardless of their ability to pay.

Who else covers the costs of caring for the uninsured? The State of Michigan. Accepting federal funding for Medicaid expansion relieves the state of much of that burden.

Medicaid expansion is supported by Michigan healthcare professionals.

Michigan’s healthcare community is practically begging for Medicaid expansion, despite what Republicans might want you to believe. From reporting by Michigan Radio:

Most Michigan doctors say they are prepared to take on a wave of new patients — if the state approves an expansion of its Medicaid program.

Marianne Udow-Phillips of the Center for Healthcare Research & Transformation says the nonprofit group surveyed 1,500 Michigan physicians.

“Overall, 81% of primary care physicians say they’re going to expand their practices to take new patients come 2014,” Udow-Phillips says.

The CHRT study says 55 percent of primary care physicians in Michigan say they currently accept new Medicaid patients. Among those who don’t currently take new Medicaid patients, most physicians said they would also take newly enrolled Medicaid patients.

Medicaid expansion will bring an influx of funding into Michigan.

As I wrote earlier this week, there are some costs involved in Medicaid expansion. But Michigan would incur certain costs with or without the expansion as more citizens become eligible for Medicaid come 2014. So it makes absolutely no sense not to accept the more than $1 billion in funding Medicaid expansion would bring into Michigan.

Sen. John Moolenaar, who chairs the Michigan Senate Health Budget Subcommittee, has expressed concerns that the federal government would not be able to sustain its promised funding. This is a ridiculous assumption, considering that the federal government has never defaulted on Medicaid payments. Via MLive.com:

Jan Hudson, senior policy analyst at the Michigan League for Public Policy, said that the federal government has never broken a promise to fund Medicaid since the program’s inception in 1965. In fact, she said, the government has a history of increasing federal match rates during times of economic stress.”

There is simply no good reason NOT to implement Medicaid expansion. 

Why on earth would budget-conscious Michigan Republicans refuse funding that can save lives, improve public health and bring significant money into the state? Plus, as I’ll report in part 2 of this series, Medicaid expansion will create jobs and generate economic growth in Michigan. What’s not to like? I don’t get it, either.

Well, actually, I do. I think the Michigan GOP is just being spiteful. The fact that Medicaid expansion is attached to the word “Obamacare” has rallied The Party of NO once again.

It’s time to say YES to Michigan Medicaid expansion. The Michigan Democratic Party has created a petition you can sign to make your voice heard.

There’s still time to get this right. There’s too much at stake for Michigan and its citizens to let Medicaid expansion fail.

Once again, thanks to Families USA and Michigan Consumers for Healthcare for their analysis of Medicaid expansion in Michigan (pdf) that provided key facts shared in this post.