A2Y Chamber calls for inclusion of Medicaid expansion in state's 2014 budget
The Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Regional Chamber is calling on state lawmakers to include Medicaid expansion in the state of Michigan's fiscal year 2014 budget.
In a statement released by its executive committee this week, the chamber argued there's a strong business case to be made for the expansion.
"Expansion can help protect employers from penalties, increase productivity and overall business activity, all while saving taxpayer dollars spent on uncompensated care by hospitals, physicians and other providers," said Doug McClure, chairman of the chamber's Public Policy Committee. "It's the right thing to do on many levels."
Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com
The governor's proposed budget included $181.7 million coming in from the federal government for the expansion. A GOP-controlled appropriations subcommittee handling the Department of Community Health budget removed that revenue stream, as well as other Snyder proposals.
Snyder's proposal calls for depositing 50 percent of the savings achieved from the expansion into a special health savings account for the first seven years through 2020.
"The account will help cover the increased share of the costs when the federal government scales back its funding from 100 percent for the first three years to 90 percent beginning in 2020," the A2Y Chamber stated this week in support of the expansion.
The Affordable Care Act calls for states to expand their Medicaid programs to include those who earn up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $15,400 per year for an individual.
That means that routine and preventative health care would be provided to about 320,000 Michigan citizens in the first year. And more than 470,000 would be covered by 2021, reducing the amount of Michigan's uninsured by about 46 percent.
"We encourage our state legislators to implement this proposal in their upcoming budget," the chamber stated. "Upwards of $30 billion will flow into Michigan from 2014-2023 by leveraging the federal funds made available through the Affordable Care Act. In addition, the state's General Fund will see between $1.1 and $1.2 billion in savings through 2020."
The chamber argued the benefits to business and the broader community are numerous. It argued reducing the number of uninsured would ease the burden on employers that will be subject to federal penalties beginning in 2014 if they do not offer affordable health care options for employees.
It also would result in a more productive workforce, the chamber argued, by giving employees more access to preventative care, meaning less sick days due to illness.
"Expansion will generate additional business activity, by increasing Medicaid payments to hospitals, physicians and other providers, in turn creating new jobs in health care, one of our largest employers," the chamber stated. "Health care providers will expand their staffs and construction firms will be hired to expand or build new health facilities. Michigan businesses in many sectors will benefit from the newly hired health care employees buying goods and services."
Finally, the chamber argued, monies saved by Medicaid expansion could be used for other important and pressing budget issues facing Michigan and its efforts to attract and retain businesses.
Snyder said the expansion isn't dead yet. He hopes to convince lawmakers that the expansion is a good idea.
Americans for Prosperity-Michigan on Wednesday applauded the House subcommittee's move to reject the proposed expansion of Medicaid.
"The Medicaid expansion proposed by the Obama administration poses significant risk to the long-term fiscal health of our state," said Scott Hagerstrom, state director for the group. "Further, it does nothing to address the long-standing problems within the Medicaid program that have led to poor health outcomes for patients and physicians fleeing the system."
State Rep. Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor, has called the expansion of Medicaid a "one-question IQ test." By recommending that Michigan accept hundreds of millions of dollars from the federal government to cover hundreds of thousands of additional residents, he said, Snyder passed that test.
Currently 1.9 million adults in Michigan receive Medicaid benefits.
Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for AnnArbor.com. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to AnnArbor.com's email newsletters.