medicaid

Photo courtesy of the Snyder administration.

The Michigan Legislature is getting closer to approving a state spending plan.

On Wednesday, the state Senate passed a education funding bill. And after lawmakers come back from the Mackinac Policy Conference, a broader budget is slated to pass next week.

But so far, debate on proposed appropriations have been mostly divided on party lines.

One issue on the partisan divide: Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.

The federal healthcare law called for broadening health insurance coverage to low-income adults — including some 400,000 in Michigan.

Out of 30 Republican governors, only six supported the expansion. Gov. Rick Snyder was one of them.

"Expansion will create more access to primary care providers, reduce the burden on hospitals and small businesses, and save precious tax dollars,” Snyder said in a press release in February. "This makes sense for the physical and fiscal health of Michigan."

But federal funding for the expansion of Medicaid has been left out of the Republican-supported budget, running counter to Snyder’s recommendation.

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Michigan Medicaid expansion uncertain

Legislation that will determine the future of Michigan Medicaid is at a standstill. On Thursday, the state Senate passed a budget bill that did not include Medicaid although the federal government is offering to pay the state to add hundreds of thousands of people to the program.

Later on Thursday, a Legislative panel heard testimony on a House Republican plan that opts to overhaul the program before expanding it. Senate Republicans say they’re willing to consider the House plan.

Michigan Board of Education asks state to more closely monitor charter schools

The Michigan Board of Education wants to see new laws enacted that would allow the state to more closely monitor the business practices of charter schools. Republican lawmakers are eyeing the request skeptically. The Board has a Democratic majority. The Board’s President, John Austin, stated that the board has a responsibility to keep an eye on all public schools, including charters.

Flint School District will lay off nearly 140 teachers and staff

Next month, the Flint School District is expecting to lay off nearly 140 teachers and staff. This is the latest in a series of cutbacks. Eric Scorsone, an economist with Michigan State University, said this could be the tip of the iceberg. More school districts could topple because of uncertain revenue streams and rising costs. Scorsone says it would take a major shift in school funding and an increase in the state’s sales tax to turn things around.

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Controversy of Medicaid reform is being debated

A bill is being debated in the Michigan house to reform Medicaid in the state.

"The federal government is offering to pay for an expansion of Medicaid that would add hundreds of thousands of Michiganders to the program. But Republican leaders in the state Legislature say they're not willing to expand the system without major changes." Michigan Radio's Jake Neher reports.

Michigan projected to get $542 million more than expected

The state of Michigan is projected to get nearly half a billion dollars more than expected in revenue.

"The state’s economic measurements remain mixed. Michigan still has one of the nation’s highest jobless rates. But Governor Snyder says improving revenue is evidence of confidence in the state’s economy," Michigan Radio's Rick Pluta reports.

The governor has suggested using the surplus to draw down federal transportation dollars, or cover a Medicaid shortfall.

Changes are imminent in Detroit

As of yesterday, Mayor Dave Bing will not be running for re-election, James Craig has been appointed Detroit Chief of Police, and more than half the incumbents on the Detroit City Council will not be seeking another term. The general elections will be held on November 5th. The Detroit News has more.

Governor Rick Snyder's administration is "encouraged" by a House Republican plan to overhaul Medicaid in the state. 

But it's concerned about language that would kick able-bodied adults off the program after four years.

Department of community Health director Jim Haveman says the House plan is "a good starting point" for negotiations.

"I'm really cautiously optimistic that, by the time this is done over the next two weeks, we'll have a bill that we all can be very supportive of and we can collectively go sell and get the waiver from the federal government."

The federal government is offering to pay for an expansion of Medicaid that would add hundreds of thousands of Michiganders to the program. But Republican leaders in the state Legislature say they're not willing to expand the system without major changes.

Washington would have to approve the state's alternative to the plan.

www.schoolbussafety.net

This week in review, Rina Miller and Jack Lessenberry discuss a bill to expand Medicaid, how school districts will no longer collect union dues from teachers, and the financial trouble with Buena Vista and Pontiac schools.

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Wolf hunt approved

"There will be a wolf hunt in the Upper Peninsula this fall. The state Natural Resources Commission OKed the hunt yesterday," Steve Carmody reports.

Pontiac and Buena Vista schools in financial trouble

"A Michigan report says the Pontiac School District's finances are in bleak shape and the district might not be able to make payroll soon. The district faces a  $37.7 million deficit. Meanwhile, the Buena Vista School District shut down this month after it ran out of money and couldn't pay teachers," the Associated Press reports.

Medicaid expansion proposed in House

"Republicans in the state House have introduced a bill to overhaul and expand Medicaid in Michigan. Among other things, it would limit able-bodied adults to four years in the program," Jake Neher reports.

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Republicans in the state House have introduced a bill to overhaul and expand Medicaid in Michigan.

Among other things, it would limit able-bodied adults to four years in the program.

The Republican-led state Legislature has balked at the idea of accepting money from the federal government to add hundreds of thousands of people to Medicaid.

House Speaker Jase Bolger says this is an alternative to that plan.

“If we are going to say ‘no’ to something, we must offer an alternative. We ask that all of the time from our colleagues across the aisle, and therefore we’re going to continue to live by that ourselves,” said Bolger.

The bill would also require the federal government to fund 100 percent of the expansion.

As you may know, the federal government has offered to expand Medicaid coverage to families whose incomes are less than one hundred and thirty three percent of the poverty level.

If you wonder how much money that is, I looked it up for you – slightly less than $26,000 a year for a family of three. The answer to the question: How do you support three people on that and afford health insurance? is that you don’t.

If Michigan accepts, an estimated 320,000 people who now have no health insurance would be immediately covered. That would rise to nearly half a million people within a few years. The cost to the state government would initially be zero.

After the year 2020, Michigan would have to pay 10 percent of the cost. This would still, health care experts say, be a mere fraction of what all these uninsured people currently cost the state.

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Gary Peters announces run for U.S. Senate

U.S. Representative Gary Peters, who represents the Detroit-based 14th Congressional District, is expected to announce his candidacy for the U.S. Senate today. As the Detroit Free Press reports:

"Peters has been considered a likely candidate for the seat being vacated by U.S. Sen. Carl Levin since Levin announced in March his intentions to retire at the end of the current term. Shortly after Levin’s announcement, Peters told the Free Press he was 'seriously considering' a run for that seat."

Corporate donations to help create "wraparound" schools in Detroit

"Detroit and other cities in Michigan are turning to businesses to help pay for schools that provide a wide variety of services to students and their families. Yesterday, JP Morgan Chase announced it will donate $1.5 million to pay for three 'wraparound’ schools in Detroit...Governor Rick Snyder says that could include help with managing household finances or finding a job, or parenting classes,"  Rick Pluta reports.

Law enforcement officials call for an expansion of Medicaid

A group of law enforcement officials is calling on state lawmakers to expand Medicaid coverage to more than 300,000 Michigan residents at an event in Lansing today.

"The group says Medicaid coverage for expectant mothers can help prevent children from being born with fetal alcohol syndrome or fetal alcohol effects. They will also advocate for Medicaid coverage for interventions such as substance abuse and mental and behavioral health issues as a way to cut crime," the Associated Press reports.

Medicaid expansion in trouble in Mich. Legislature

Mar 23, 2013
michigan.gov

Governor Rick Snyder and health advocates have their work cut out for them persuading the GOP-led Legislature to expand Medicaid coverage to hundreds of thousands more residents.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

This “week in review” Rina Miller and Jack Lessenberry discuss a state house subcommittee’s rejection to expand Medicaid, how Michigan will be run under a federal health exchange, how universities are going under scrutiny for negotiating new, long term contracts before Michigan’s right to work law goes into effect, and how a city pension attorney in Detroit and a former trustee were indicted for bribery.

You probably know the old story about the man who kept hitting himself in the head with a hammer. When asked why, he grinned happily and said, “because it feels so good when I stop.”

Well, the Michigan Legislature reminds me of that, with two big differences. We have begun to regard their nutty behavior as normal, and unlike the guy with the hammer, they show no signs of stopping.

Politically, Michigan is a moderate to liberal state. The state hasn’t voted Republican for president in 25 years. Republicans have lost every U.S. Senate election except one over the last 40 years.

We aren’t right-wing extremists. Except in the legislature, which is controlled by ideologues out of touch with the reality the rest of us live in. I’m not talking about conservatives. Good intelligent conservatives from Arthur Vandenberg to Gerald Ford have helped make this state great. I’m talking about people who substitute ideology for common sense.

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Michigan lawmakers reject Medicaid expansion

A state House subcommittee has rejected an expansion of Medicaid to nearly 500,000 Michiganders. As the Detroit Free Press reports,

"The Appropriations subcommittee handling the Department of Community Health budget passed the funding document without the Medicaid expansion, as well as other Snyder proposals, including: dental services for low income children, health and wellness initiatives, mental health and substance abuse services for veterans and an infant mortality program."

However, according to Rick Pluta,  Governor Rick Snyder says he expects the Legislature will ultimately accept federal money to expand Michigan’s Medicaid program.

State House approves dredging funds

"The state House has approved more than $20 million for emergency harbor dredging. Governor Rick Snyder is asking for the money to address record-low water levels in the Great Lakes. He says ships and recreational boaters aren’t able to get in and out of harbors," Jake Neher reports.

March Madness tournament kicks off today

The basketball games leading up to the NCAA championship begins today. As the Detroit News reports, Michigan State University and the University of Michigan's mens' basketball teams have games tonight.

"No. 3 seed MSU will face Valparaiso at 12:15 p.m. and No. 4 seed U-M will take on South Dakota State at 7:15 p.m. Teams moving on in the next round will head to games on Saturday, also at the Palace [of Auburn Hills]."

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Part of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) calls for an expansion of the Medicaid program, but some state legislators and governors are resisting the expansion.

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder is NOT one of those governors resisting.

When he announced his support for the expansion last month, he said it was about being "financially responsible."

Republicans in the Michigan Legislature, however, seem to disagree.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Expanding state Medicaid programs is part of the new national health care law.

Many Republican state lawmakers say it will cost Michigan taxpayers over a billion dollars during the next decade. But there’s a cost to large Michigan businesses if they don’t.

“Actually, taxes could go up on employers in states that don’t expand Medicaid,” says Brian Hale, the senior vice president for health policy at Jackson Hewitt Tax Service, “You need to factor that in to the decision about whether or not to expand Medicaid.”

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder will unveil his budget this morning at 11 a.m.

Then the leaders in the Legislature will wrestle with the numbers and push their priorities for state spending and income.

Watch Snyder's budget unveiling here:

Governor Rick Snyder  yesterday cast a vote for common sense and pragmatism, by coming out in favor of  expanding Medicaid to what will, within a decade, include almost half a million  people.

Putting purely human considerations aside, the deal makes  enormous economic sense for Michigan. The federal government will pick up all  the costs of the Medicaid expansion for the first three years.  After that,  Michigan has to kick in a tiny amount which will never exceed ten percent. But  from day one, the feds will cover a lot of expenses Michigan pays for today.

The  governor’s staff says this will amount to $206 million dollars next year alone. His budget would prudently stick half those savings in a special  fund to save for the day when Michigan does have to pick up a tiny share of the  expanded Medicaid costs.

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Patient advocates and healthcare organizations are cheering Governor Rick Snyder’s decision to seek an expansion of Medicaid eligibility under the new federal healthcare law.

The expansion would eventually allow 450,000 people to be added to Medicaid, and sharply reduce the ranks of the un-insured in Michigan.

The governor says it would also reduce the overall cost of healthcare in Michigan. And part of the savings can be banked to cover Michigan’s future costs of the Medicaid expansion.

“This is about being financially responsible," said Snyder. "Just like you’d be setting up at home, let’s set up a health savings account here, to cushion for shocks, for unexpected events, and then to have a thoughtful stream of dollars to minimize costs for the long-term."

Health care groups, patient advocates, and some business groups also support the expansion.

They say unnecessary emergency room visits and people who wait to get treated are driving up the cost of care and the cost of health insurance.

Kris Nicholoff is with the Michigan Osteopathic Association. He says that would eventually almost cut in half the number of people in Michigan who don’t have health insurance.

“450,000 people will get coverage that don’t have it right now. Now, you’ve been to the University of Michigan’s football stadium? Four times that. Picture that right now – four times that full patients will receive care if we expand Medicaid," said Nicholoff.

The Medicaid expansion will be part of Governor Snyder’s budget proposal. It will be presented tomorrow. Then it has to be approved by the Legislature. The governor says the expansion will save money in the long-term.

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Advocates for the uninsured are pressing Governor Rick Snyder to call for an expansion of Medicaid in Michigan. They delivered more than 4,000 petition signatures in favor of an expansion to the governor’s office yesterday.

Under the federal healthcare law, the state could let nearly 400,000 uninsured residents join the program. The federal government would cover the cost for three years. After that, the state would be responsible for up to ten percent. 

Liz Lamoste, with the group Medicaid Matters for Michigan, says the state should take advantage of the offer.

“If the offer’s on the table, we should be in a position to take advantage of it, especially because it makes financial sense for Michigan, and hundreds of thousands of people are relying on us to take prudent responsible action to provide people with more coverage," said Lamoste.

Many Republicans in the Legislature say they don’t trust the federal government to keep its promises. Governor Snyder will announce his plans for Medicaid on Thursday when he unveils his new proposed budget.

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The following is a summary of a previously recorded interview. To hear the complete segment, click the audio above.

Is the State of Michigan going to expand its Medicaid coverage? That's the question on the front burner at the Governor's office these days as he prepares to unveil his new budget to the Legislature this week.

Cyndy spoke with Detroit Free Press reporter Kathleen Gray who helped break down the Medicaid program in the state and talked to us about the pros and cons of expanding Medicaid coverage to another half a million people.

The Affordable Care Act will assist states in expanding their Medicaid eligibility limits for adults to 133 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, (that's and income of about $14,860 per year for one person).

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