Casting low-income uninsured into coverage chasm

Added March 21st, 2013 by Jan Hudson | Email This Entry Email This Entry
Jan Hudson

In his executive budget recommendations, Gov. Rick Snyder submitted a responsible plan to accept federal funds to increase Medicaid eligibility and provide comprehensive healthcare coverage to 320,000 low-income residents. His budget would promote a healthier workforce, generate jobs and economic activity through the increased federal funds.

Unfortunately the GOP members of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Community Health did not agree.

Their budget recommendation approved Wednesday does not include Medicaid expansion and includes a host of other cuts. Their action will deny healthcare coverage to more than 320,000 low-income individuals and parents forcing them into a coverage chasm (they will not be eligible for Medicaid and they will not be eligible for subsidies to purchase private coverage).

The subcommittee’s budget will also deny dental care through the Healthy Kids Dental program to 70,000 children in Ingham, Washtenaw and Ottawa counties, deny comprehensive mental health services to those with serious needs and deny improvements in mental health and substance abuse services for veterans, who are inadequately served in Michigan.

Nearly all programs or funding increases recommended by the governor to improve the health and health status of Michiganians were rejected by the subcommittee.  They also halted  the new jobs and economic activity that would be generated by the infusion of federal dollars into the state. There is  broad and overwhelming support by the public,  the provider community, and primary care doctors for the Medicaid expansion. At the same time, the governor and the Small Business Association of Michigan announced their support.

Despite this broad support for Medicaid expansion, there seems to be a small, but vocal minority influencing and directing public policy.

Lawmakers will be on break for the next two weeks. When you see them in your community, ask them to support the governor’s recommendation — accepting Michigan’s share of federal funds to provide comprehensive healthcare coverage, including mental health benefits, to hundreds of thousands of low-income residents by increasing Medicaid eligibility to 133% of the federal poverty level, as well as funding for his other initiatives such as Healthy Kids Dental, improved services for veterans, and funding to reduce infant mortality.

— Jan Hudson




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