Michigan Democrats, Michigan Republicans, Tea Party — June 11, 2013 at 8:47 am

Maintain the momentum: We’re gaining ground on Medicaid expansion


The House GOP is dropping demands for a 48-month cap on Medicaid coverage for able-bodied adults.

The Michigan Tea Party can’t be happy about this. There are signs of Republican willingness to compromise on Medicaid expansion, a big step forward in making it a reality in Michigan.

Yesterday, a story in Crain’s Detroit Business reported that House Republicans were abandoning their effort to place a 48-month cap on able-bodied adults’ access to Medicaid under expansion. This proposal had been blasted by Democrats and wasn’t embraced by Governor Rick Snyder. As I wrote here when the proposal was introduced, it would almost undoubtedly have been rejected by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Substitute language, which is expected to be introduced in committee this week, removes the cap and was provided to Crain’s:

Instead it seeks a federal waiver for those who have been on Medicaid for longer than 48 months and are between 100 percent and 133 percent of the federal poverty level. They would be able to either purchase private insurance through a health exchange or remain on Medicaid but increase their cost-sharing requirement from 5 percent to 7 percent of income for all out-of-pocket costs.

Other elements of the new bill include cost-sharing for people between 100 and 133 percent of the federal poverty level, starting at 5 percent for the first four years (excluding the first six months of enrollment). There would be rate reductions for people who meet health goals in areas such as obesity, immunization adherence or drug and alcohol use. There would also be incentives for Medicaid recipients who help reduce fraud and abuse in the system.

Crain’s contacted several committee members who wanted to read the new bill before commenting. But while she had to review the bill before saying if she’d support it, committee member Kate Segal, D-Battle Creek, said she’s happy to see the 48-month cap removed.

“It’s definitely a move in the right direction,” she said. “This is a population that is working full time, if not more, and the goal is to make sure this bill helps them.”

Spokespeople from the Michigan Association of Health Plans and the Expand Medicaid Coalition both made positive statements about the new language. The Michigan Competitiveness Committee is scheduled to hear testimony on the bill today and another meeting is scheduled for Wednesday. Crain’s also reported discussion of a second substitute bill that may be introduced this week.

Today, both supporters and opponents of Medicaid expansion are gathering in Lansing to make their viewpoints heard. More details on that can be found HERE.

The Tea Party of West Michigan continues fighting against any effort to implement Obamacare — including elements that have already been rejected by the Michigan legislature, such as a state health exchange. From an email to supporters:

We need to push back as long and as hard as we can on ObamaCare. We need to nullify this thing and there are many reasons we can use to push back. Just one is the fact that it’s unconstitutional on it’s face and the states are the ones to decide this. […] Anything is worth trying so we don’t get socialized medicine in America. By our House and Senate passing this they will make it that much easier for Obama and company to install ObamaCare in our state and around our country. We must hold tight and push back on this and not let it happen.

We all know the Supreme Court upheld the law’s constitutionality and that this isn’t socialized medicine, right? (Just checking.) But the point is that this group is engaged, activated, and ready to keep doing whatever it takes for as long as it takes.

Fortunately, there are voices of reason in Lansing today willing to do the same. As I wrote here yesterday, the Michigan Nurses Association is gathering to advocate for Medicaid expansion, expressing concern about losing federally provided money for Medicaid expansion. They see the need first-hand, and also recognize the economic benefits Medicaid expansion would deliver to our state.

Reasonable voices need to continue being heard in support of Medicaid expansion. Even if you’ve reached out before, do it again. Encourage your legislators to work together to find a way to get this done — before summer recess begins.

No matter what some people would want you to believe, Medicaid expansion is good for everyone in Michigan.