“Obamacare savings may be short-lived”! shouts the headline of an editorial in today’s edition of The Detroit News. They are referring to Medicaid expansion in our state, a program that is fully funded by the federal government until 2017 and funded at a level of 90% after that, all while giving an additional 600,000 working poor Michiganders health care coverage they wouldn’t be able to afford otherwise and saving the state $220 million a year.
So, what has happened that prompted The News to sound the warning bells? Have health care costs suddenly skyrocketed under the Affordable Care Act?
Has the federal government reneged on its promise to cover the costs?
What then? Why the alarmist editorial?
But here’s why some business groups that once supported the expansion are starting to get worried: They fear the savings will soon become a loss, and they’ll have to cover the difference.
Snyder had wanted the Legislature to set aside a portion of the annual savings into a “lockbox” that the state could start drawing on in 2017, when it will have to contribute toward the expanded Medicaid program. Between 2014 and 2015, the governor wanted $225 million placed into safekeeping.
Unfortunately, that savings account was never created.
Michigan dubbed its expanded program Healthy Michigan, and it’s been more popular than expected. After one year, more than 600,000 new individuals are now covered — which far exceeded the state’s projections.
Right now, the federal government is paying the estimated $3 billion in expenses, but in 2017, Michigan will have to kick in $150 million, and $300 million by 2020.
And why was that savings account never created? Because Republicans who control every single level of our state government chose to use it to fill the monstrous hole they blew in our state budget with their massive tax giveaways to corporations. If they had put aside that money responsibly, there would be no problem in the future. In fact, given the historical trend of rising health care costs, going from $225 million in annual costs to $300 million five years from now was about par for the course BEFORE the ACA was passed. A little smart investment of the $225 million in annual savings would have put us far ahead and, again, well over a half million Michiganders have coverage they wouldn’t have had without it.
It’s part of the ongoing effort by Republicans to show that we simply cannot afford to offer health care to our poor citizens efficiently. They’d rather do it the most expensive, least efficient, and, frankly, stupidest way possible: by forcing them to use emergency rooms for “health care” services.
Conservative corporatists are desperate for the Affordable Care Act to be a failure despite the obvious fact that it is not. They are going to great lengths to find ways that it’s imperfect. The Detroit News editorial staff, led by Nolan Finley, have now resorted to blaming Republican’s fiscal irresponsibility on Obamacare.