Archived Story

Medicaid expansion in Michigan good

Published 2:00pm Thursday, May 23, 2013

Imagine having to choose between seeking health care services, purchasing food to eat or paying for shelter.
That’s the nightmarish reality that many of Michigan’s uninsured have to endure every single day.
Ultimately, being uninsured means postponement of care, which leads to declining health, dismal quality of life and the inability to focus on positive behaviors that lead people to self-sufficiency, such as education and employment. Worse yet, delays in necessary treatment lead to costly – and avoidable  – emergency room expenditures and, in the worst case, premature death.
This is neither moral or  rational.
Unfortunately, we ignore the uninsured – and we pay for it.
Today, Michigan hospitals spend nearly a billion dollars annually in uncompensated care, which is ineffective, and the costs are shifted to the insured, businesses and taxpayers.
Michigan ranks 37 according to a 2012 United Health Foundation report.
We can demand more for our health care dollar by insuring everyone has access to basic health care services, including preventive care, which is proven to increase people’s health and productivity, and reduce avoidable costs. We can immediately provide access to care to more than 450,000 uninsured Michigan residents, including  nearly 3,000 people in Cass County.
How? All we have to do is urge our state legislators to support House Bill 4714, which will expand Medicaid eligibility to persons with incomes below 133 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (roughly equal to $15,900 for an individual or $32,500 for a family of four per year).
Cassopolis Family Clinic provides comprehensive primary care to everyone regardless of income, keeping our neighbors healthy and out of the emergency room.
Expanding Medicaid will provide coverage to nearly 1,200 of our currently uninsured patients.
There are many reasons to expand Medicaid. This is precisely why Gov.  Snyder is adamantly supporting Medicaid expansion and reform.
House Bill 4714 would provide access to care for roughly 100,000 low-income veterans who bravely served our country.
In addition, Michigan’s budget would benefit by adding more than $2 billion per year in revenues and saving our state over $200 million annually.
House Bill 4714 is great for Michigan’s economy. It will add over 18,000 jobs and pour $53 billion into Michigan’s economy over the next 15 years. It will help employers avoid up to $81 million in tax penalties. It will also result in a healthier workforce, translating into fewer sick days and improved employability.
It’s not just the governor and the majority of Michiganders supporting Medicaid expansion and reform; it’s also well-respected business, consumer and health care leaders such as the Small Business Association of Michigan, Blue Cross Blue Shield, the Michigan Dental Association, the Michigan Health and Hospital Association, the Michigan Primary Care Association and the Michigan State Medical Society.

House Bill 4714 is a common sense solution to a longstanding problem, and only has upside, saving money and lives. As a result, we urge our state legislators to support House Bill 4714.

Mary Geegan Middleton is executive director of Cassopolis Family Clinic.

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