Obamacare — September 16, 2013 at 7:16 pm

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signs Medicaid expansion into law


It’s a great deal. But it could have been even better.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m elated that Medicaid expansion is finally the law in Michigan after an official signing ceremony with Governor Rick Snyder today. I just wish the actual benefits would start sooner.

The good news is that nearly half a million Michigan residents will now have access to health insurance. These are Michigan’s working families, veterans, seniors and children. They do the best they can to get by, but purchasing health insurance just hasn’t been an option. Now they’ll have access to preventive care through regular check-ups and office visits, instead of waiting until they get sick to rush to the emergency room. That translates into better health and lower overall healthcare costs, because prevention costs less than treatment.

As Jonathan Oosting wrote on MLive.com, Michigan is only the third Republican-led state to accept Medicaid expansion, so it is a big win for bipartisanship in many ways.

U.S. Congressman John Dingell congratulated Governor Snyder on this fact, in a comment that reportedly drew applause at the signing.

For the sweet love of God, let’s understand that we have to work together to make our government work. Politics is a sport to many Americans, but it should not be a blood sport. We are all in this together.

Unfortunately, bipartisanship only went so far, with the Michigan Senate refusing to pass the bill with immediate effect. That means implementation will be delayed beyond the January 1, 2014 start date for most other states accepting Medicaid expansion. It could be March or April before Michigan’s plan goes into effect, costing the state millions in federal dollars.

Part of getting Medicaid expansion passed in Michigan required amending the Affordable Care Act’s original program to appease reluctant Republicans. These reforms must be approved by the Obama administration. Although some have expressed concern over getting these waivers approved, senior administration officials told reporters during a call I was on in July that they would “review all proposals” and collaborate with states like Michigan to make the program work for them.

Let’s hope everyone heeds the wise words of Congressman Dingell, and comes together to make Medicaid expansion work for everyone — as soon as possible. It means more than $1 billion in funding for Michigan, plus an estimated initial savings of $200 million a year on the cost of some mental health services the state currently pays for, according to Oosting.

Most important, it means improved health and well-being for nearly 470,000 of Michigan’s residents. All politics aside, offering a better quality of life to so many Michiganders should be good news to everyone.