Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder will become the sixth Republican state chief executive to push for the expansion of Medicaid under President Barack Obama's health care reform law Wednesday.
Snyder is holding a press conference with interest groups representing the health care industry and senior citizens, the Detroit Free Press reported Wednesday. (h/t The Hill). To enact the Medicaid expansion, Snyder will have to win over the Republican-led legislature.
The Detroit Free Press outlines the stakes:
The expansion will allow roughly 470,000 more uninsured low-income Michiganders to be covered by Medicaid. Currently 1.9 million people received Medicaid benefits. But under the Affordable Care Act -- often referred to as Obamacare -- nearly half a million more people will become eligible for the assistance.
Snyder's announcement comes a day after Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) announced his support for the Medicaid expansion and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R) said he opposes broadening the program. Including Michigan, the chief executives of 21 states and the District of Columbia back the Medicaid expansion and the Republican governors of 11 states don't plan to move ahead.
The health care reform law seeks to extend Medicaid to anyone earning up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level, which is $15,282 for a single person this year. The federal government will pay the full cost of covering newly eligible people on Medicaid from 2014 to 2016, then will scale back funding to 90 percent in 2022 and later years.
The Congressional Budget Office projects that 12 million people will gain coverage through Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program, a related benefit, by 2022 as a result of the law, according to a report issued Tuesday.
The Supreme Court ruling that upheld the health care reform law gave states the option of refusing to open their Medicaid programs to more poor people. If every state were to participate in the Medicaid expansion, it would extend coverage to 17 million people, the Congressional Budget Office predicted in a March 2012 report.
Snyder's office published information about his proposal to expand Medicaid Wednesday. From a press release:
"This makes sense for the physical and fiscal health of Michigan," said Snyder, who studied the issue thoroughly before arriving at his decision. "Expansion will create more access to primary care providers, reduce the burden on hospitals and small businesses, and save precious tax dollars. It also puts Michigan rather than Washington in the driver's seat in terms of implementation, which allows us to better address Michigan's specific needs."
Expanding Medicaid to cover up to 133 percent of the Federal Poverty Limit means that routine and preventative health care will be provided to about 320,000 Michiganders in the first year. More than 470,000 will be covered by 2021, reducing the amount of Michigan's uninsured by about 46 percent.
Creating access to primary care providers reduces more costly emergency room visits and decreases hospitals' uncompensated costs. A recent study estimates that Michigan will save $351 million by 2022.
More than $20 billion will flow into Michigan through 2023 by leveraging the federal funds made available through the Affordable Care Act. In addition, the state's General Fund will see $1.2 billion in savings through 2020.
Like Kasich and Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R), Snyder will seek to protect his state from lower federal subsidies down the line. Kasich and Brewer proposed creating a "trigger" that would scale back the Medicaid expansion if Congress cuts funding.
Snyder takes a different approach. Anticipating that the Medicaid expansion will save Michigan money, Snyder wants to earmark half those savings into a fund until 2020 that would be tapped when the federal government's share of the financing gets smaller in future years under Obamacare.
The press release also lists the organizations endorsing Snyder's plan: AARP Michigan, Michigan Association of Community Mental Health Boards, Michigan Association of Health Plans, Michigan Health and Hospital Association, Michigan Osteopathic Association, Michigan Primary Care Association, Michigan State Medical Society, and the Small Business Association of Michigan.
Snyder's office released a fact sheet about his Medicaid expansion initiative.