Healthy Michigan Plan makes sense for our state

Published 6:09 pm Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Since beginning in April 2014, the Healthy Michigan Plan (HMP) has provided health care coverage to more than 585,000 previously uninsured Michigan residents.

Currently, the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services is waiting to receive approval on a second waiver from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in order to continue HMP as required by Michigan law. If the second waiver is approved by the end of Dec. 2015, low-income Michigan residents will continue to receive health care coverage under HMP.

However, if the second waiver is rejected, low-income Michigan residents could lose their HMP coverage on April 30, 2016.

The Healthy Michigan Plan, Michigan’s version of Medicaid expansion, was launched as a state option under the Affordable Care Act. With HMP coverage, low-income Michigan residents who have income at or below 133 percent of the federal poverty level are finally able to receive necessary primary and preventive health care services, as many who have become eligible are receiving coverage for the first time.

Cassopolis Family Clinic Network (CFCN), a Federally Qualified Health Center, provides primary and preventive health care to individuals residing in Cass and Southeast Berrien Counties. Following the launch of HMP, the number of uninsured Michigan residents seeking treatment at FQHCs dropped by 29.6 percent. Locally, CFCN saw a 10 percent decrease in uninsured visits and 10 percent increase in visits covered by HMP.

Between 2013 and 2014, Medicaid revenue has increased for Michigan Health Centers by 26.1 percent due to increased enrollment in Medicaid. This revenue increase has been, and continues to be, reinvested in Michigan through providing health care services to more individuals, establishing new service sites and creating employment opportunities locally and throughout Michigan. In 2014, Michigan Health Centers increased the number of jobs by 12.5 percent and provided 4,577 full-time equivalent jobs in communities throughout the state. In 2013, Michigan Health Centers provided 4,260 full-time equivalent jobs.

The Healthy Michigan Plan enables CFCN’s Cassopolis Family Clinic and Niles Community Health Center sites to serve the health care needs of people in southwest Michigan. As of Nov. 16, 2015, 2641 Cass County residents and 9280 Berrien County residents receive coverage under HMP. With this coverage, HMP increases access to primary and preventive care for low-income residents. Since April 2014, more than 455,000 HMP participants have had a primary care visit, over 174,000 have had a preventive care visit and HMP has covered more than 52,000 mammograms and 27,000 colonoscopies.

If HMP coverage were to go away, approximately 450,000 people may not be eligible for financial assistance, as they do not meet income requirements for financial assistance in the Health Insurance Marketplace (income must be above 100 percent FPL or $11,770 for a household of one). As a result, people would need to rely almost exclusively on safety net providers including free clinics, hospital charity care programs and CFCN.

The Healthy Michigan Plan makes sense for Michigan.


Mary Geegan Middleton is the executive director of the Cassopolis Family Clinic.