For 470,000 low-income Michiganders, Medicaid coverage will soon be a reality.
Gov. Rick Snyder signed House Bill 4714 on Monday. With his signature, residents earning less than $15,280 annually are now covered by the federal program.
These Michiganders, which include low-income college students, will join the other roughly one-fifth of state residents who currently have Medicaid coverage. Most Medicaid recipients are disabled, impoverished, pregnant women and children from low-income families.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act itself has lingered as a controversial topic even before the Supreme Court ruled the majority of it constitutional in June of last year. However, in its ruling, the Supreme Court decided that the PPACA, commonly known as “Obamacare,” had to grant states the right to opt out of the Medicaid expansion provision without losing all federal Medicaid funding.
After its narrow passage in the state Senate by a mere vote and its passing in the House, Medicaid expansion nevertheless remains a controversial issue among students and state residents.
“The expansion will help the state in many ways,” Central Michigan University College Democrats President Taylor Gehrcke said. “Not only in giving more Michiganders access to the care they deserve, but it also brings 18,000 jobs along with $2 billion into Michigan by 2016, while also saving $1 billion over a 10-year span.”
Unlike many of his fellow state Republicans, Snyder has been an adamant supporter of Medicaid expansion.
“This was good teamwork,” Snyder said in a press conference following the House’s Sept. 3 approval of Medicaid expansion. “Because it’s about helping Michiganders; hundreds of thousands of Michiganders will have the opportunity for health care coverage. It’s a situation that will also save all Michiganders money, in terms of addressing an unmanaged, uncontrolled system.”
Others remained unconvinced that the bill will benefit Michigan residents and question whether it will lower costs.
“The only way we can expect a real lowering of health care costs to come is if we recreate a competitive environment in which companies must offer pricing that fits the needs of their consumers,” CMU University Libertarians President Ty Hicks said. “So long as the government keeps footing the bill, those who set their prices for healthcare will always be able to raise it.”
Meanwhile, College Republican Jon Blomberg agreed that the Medicaid expansion will cause healthcare costs to rise. However, it adequately addresses healthcare in Michigan as well, he said.
“Despite the federal aid that Michigan will receive, Medicaid expansion provides a cost much less than the cost that results from the PPACA. The bill is ultimately beneficial because it minimizes the costs created by the PPACA,” Blomberg said.
For the upcoming fiscal year, the bill authorizes $1.7 billion in federal funding for healthcare in the state of Michigan.
The federal government will continue to foot 100 percent of the bill’s expenses for the first three years of the program’s implementation. By 2020, the state will be contributing no more than 10 percent of all costs.
More controversy has erupted because of the bill’s lack of immediate implementation. Despite Snyder’s insistence to enact the bill by Jan. 1 in order to acquire additional federal funding, it will not occur until late March or early April without legislative action.
For each day the bill is not implemented in 2014, the state will lose approximately $7 million in federal funding.