Affordable Care Act, Dan Kildee, Flint, healthcare, Obamacare, Rick Snyder — February 6, 2017 at 4:37 pm

Memo to GOP governors: Protecting Medicaid expansion means protecting Obamacare


Michigan Congressman Dan Kildee reminds Governor Rick Snyder and others that without the Affordable Care Act, there would be no Medicaid expansion.

At the moment, the future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, is anyone’s guess. Congressional Republicans and Donald Trump promised to repeal the law on the President’s first day in office … but that obviously didn’t happen. Republicans can’t agree on any of the replacement options brought forth so far, and most recently President Trump said it could take until 2018 for Republicans to craft a “wonderful” replacement plan. Republicans are running scared from their constituents, who are rightfully demanding the law not be repealed without a replacement that won’t leave millions of Americans without health insurance.

In the midst of this chaos, some Republican governors have been lobbying to protect Medicaid expansion, including Michigan’s Rick Snyder and Ohio’s John Kasich. Although I strongly disagree with most of their policy positions, I commend them for fighting their own party to bring Medicaid expansion under the ACA to their states. Gov. Snyder dubbed the expansion the Healthy Michigan plan, tailoring it, in part, to appease state legislators.

Governors like Snyder and Kasich want to protect Medicaid expansion — but whether they support the rest of the ACA is far less clear.

That’s a big problem, because without the rest of the ACA in place, there’s no telling if the funding that supports Medicaid expansion would survive the upheaval. I recently spoke about this with Congressman Dan Kildee. His district includes the city of Flint, Mich., where Medicaid was expanded even further in response to the Flint water crisis.

Rep. Kildee has a message for Republicans who think they can pick and choose the parts of the ACA they want to keep:

Republican governors that have accepted Medicaid expansion can’t have it both ways. They say they want to keep Medicaid expansion, but they support the Republican obsession with repealing the ACA. Let’s be clear: Medicaid expansion is Obamacare. Obamacare is Medicaid expansion. They can’t have it both ways.

It’s important to understand the architecture of the ACA, says Rep. Kildee, because each part of the law supports the other. If Medicaid expansion were taken away, more than 646,000 Michiganders would lose their health insurance — that’s the worst impact, he says. But at the same time, everyone else’s costs would go up.

“Everyone gets treatment sooner or later,” Rep. Kildee explains, and the real problem comes when people without insurance need care. “If it’s emergency care or a hospitalization, the costs of the hospital’s uncompensated care get shifted to someone else. If Medicaid expansion is eliminated, Medicare costs and insurance premiums will go up.”

Rep. Kildee wants to protect Medicaid expansion and improve on the ACA, and is willing to work with anyone — Democrat or Republican — to make it happen. But he’s frustrated by Gov. Snyder’s approach.

“If you really want to keep Healthy Michigan, be honest,” Rep. Kildee says. “Say we should preserve the ACA and make improvements where we need to. Stop pandering to your Republican buddies by trying to have it both ways.”

Congressman Kildee is concerned about the health and well-being of all Americans and Michiganders, but he’s especially worried about what would happen to the people of Flint if they lose their health insurance under Medicaid expansion.

“It would be extremely difficult for Flint to continue to recover,” he says. “Because the situation in Flint is so severe and poverty is so high, they would absolutely lose.”

As for what Republicans in Congress might do about the ACA? It’s still abundantly unclear. But here’s how Rep. Kildee sees their stand on healthcare:

What they’re saying is, ‘Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. Ignore logic, don’t believe what you see and hear. Just trust us. Suspend your belief in mathematics and logic.’

The insurance model means everyone chips in so they can get the care they need. Republicans would take us back to the time when things were pretty good for people who either had employer-based healthcare or were wealthy enough to purchase their own. Or people who didn’t get sick. There’s a reason why for decades this country was in search of comprehensive healthcare reform: The old system didn’t work for most people. They want to take us back.

Contact your Representative in the U.S. Congress HERE and your U.S. Senator HERE. Urge them to vote against repealing the ACA unless a replacement plan with the same level of coverage and consumer protections is enacted at the same time.

Has Obamacare helped you or someone in your family? Tell us about it HERE if you’d like to be considered for a future post.

[Image courtesy of Congressman Dan Kildee’s office.]