There’s no reason for a delay that will cost Michigan and its citizens millions of dollars.
The Michigan Senate passing Medicaid expansion last week was, in the immortal words of Vice President Joe Biden, a BFD. There was plenty of cause for celebration, but there’s still more to do before it’s actually implemented.
The way it stands, because the Senate passed the bill without immediate effect, Michigan will not be able to implement Medicaid expansion on January 1, 2014. Under the Michigan Constitution, new laws don’t go into effect until 90 days after the end of the year’s legislative session, unless a two-thirds super majority in the House and Senate overrules that. (More details here on what immediate effect is and why it will cause delays.)
According to Michigan Department of Human Services Director Jim Haveman, implementation will be delayed until April 2014. Michigan will pass up $7 million every day after January 1 until it’s implemented, which could add up to an estimated $630 million.
What’s more, the low-income Michiganders who would be eligible for Medicaid expansion would have to pay a penalty for not having health insurance until implementation is official. That would be another kick in the teeth to the working poor, seniors, children and veterans who are counting on Medicaid expansion.
Not to mention that the sooner the bill is passed, the sooner Michigan hospitals providing unpaid care to the uninsured will have some unnecessary financial burdens lifted. This is expected to help them keep cost increases at bay for everyone else.
There’s absolutely no reason for the delay or the expense to the state or its citizens. A concurrence vote is expected in the House as early as September 3 — and both chambers still have the chance to pass this bill with immediate effect before it goes to Governor Rick Snyder for his signature.
This Detroit News editorial explains exactly why immediate effect needs to happen, and provides some reassurance that it just might.
But remember: There are Republicans who weren’t crazy about voting yes for Medicaid expansion in the first place, and they may just want to play political games at this point to throw their weight around. Tea party activists are frothing at the mouth over the passage of Medicaid expansion in the Senate, and it seems they won’t stop fighting at every turn to make final passage and implementation as difficult as possible.
Just as we did to get Medicaid expansion passed in the first place, we need to let our legislators know we want them to do the right thing. Most urgent right now is to finalize passage of Medicaid expansion and do it with immediate effect. Let the voices of reason be louder than the voices of angry extremist.
Everyone’s counting on this moving quickly, so contact your legislators TODAY:
[Photo (and T-shirt) courtesy of Amy Lynn Smith]