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Medicaid Expansion in Michigan Still Undecided

July 11, 2013

Michigan joins several other states that continue to debate whether to expand Medicaid eligibility to 138 percent of the federal poverty level.

The delay in implementing this critical component of the Affordable Care Act will greatly limit the ability of direct-care workers, and other low-wage workers, to access affordable health care coverage starting in January 2014.

In Michigan, 320,000 individuals would be eligible for Medicaid in January 2014. PHI estimates about 50,000 of those to be direct-care workers (pdf).

In June, after months of hearings and deliberations from both opponents and a wide range of supporters, Michigan inched closer to Medicaid expansion when House Bill 4714 passed with bipartisan support. Known as Healthy Michigan, the bill would expand Medicaid to individuals and families with incomes up to 138 percent of FPL and enact various reforms to Medicaid.

Though prompt action was expected in the Senate, no vote was taken before the Senate adjourned for much of the summer.  The issue now sits in the Senate Government Oversight Committee. Hearings are expected in the coming week.

Governor Rick Snyder (R) — who has long supported Medicaid expansion and the Healthy Michigan proposal specifically — quickly responded by hosting forums across the state, highlighting the need to move forward with Medicaid expansion and urging the Senate to vote on the issue.

One forum included Stan Roth from Disability Advocates of Kent County, who spoke out about the importance of Medicaid expansion for direct-care workers. Roth explained that ensuring that low-income home care workers have health coverage will help to reduce workforce turnover, which will in turn better ensure that people with disabilities have a more stable and consistent direct-care workforce supporting them in the community.

The delay over Medicaid expansion is seen by many as being a political fight, as opposed to a matter of policy.

“With broad support from businesses, consumer advocates, and health care providers, Medicaid expansion needs to happen in Michigan,” said PHI Midwest Director Hollis Turnham. “It is the brightest hope for direct-care workers across the state to finally have health care coverage and access to needed health care services.”

— by Tameshia Bridges, PHI Midwest Program and Policy Manager

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