Medicaid expansion topic of public meeting Tuesday in Washtenaw County
Washtenaw County residents with questions about changes in health care laws and what options are available to them are encouraged to attend a public meeting in Scio Township.
State Rep. Gretchen Driskell, D-Saline, will host an informational session about health care options in Michigan from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Scio Farms, 6655 Jackson Road.
Joining Driskell at the event will be Marianne Udow-Phillips, director of the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation; Josh Fangmeier, a policy analyst at CHRT; and Ellen Rabinowitz, executive director of the Washtenaw Health Plan.
The Michigan House of Representatives, in a 75-32 vote on Tuesday afternoon, gave final legislative approval to a plan to reform Medicaid and expand eligibility under the Affordable Care Act.
The move allows the state to use more than a billion dollars in federal funding next fiscal year to expand Medicaid access to individuals earning up to 133 percent of the poverty level.
That's around $15,000 for an individual or $31,000 for a family of four.
Gov. Rick Snyder's administration estimates the expansion could eventually cover up to 470,000 new residents. The governor also believes the measure will steer people away from expensive emergency rooms and toward primary care, reduce state spending and improve the economy.
The Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Regional Chamber applauded the bipartisan passage of Medicaid expansion this week, saying the concept has broad support from the business community.
The chamber believes the money saved by Medicaid expansion can be used for other important and pressing budget issues facing Michigan, including transportation and education. The chamber issued a statement saying the move also protects employers from penalties under health care reform and lessens their costs by reducing uncompensated care, thus lowering premiums.
"Expansion will save taxpayer dollars by reducing emergency room visits and uncompensated care by hospitals, physicians and other providers, while leading to healthier and more productive workforces," the chamber stated. "It can 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 fields of employment. Finally, Michigan businesses in many sectors will benefit from the newly hired health care employees buying goods and services."
Andy LaBarre, the chamber's vice president for government relations, said Washtenaw County's delegation was at the forefront on this issue.
"We want to thank representatives Driskell, Irwin, Rutledge and Zemke for their votes in favor of this vital legislation," he said. "We also thank Senator Warren for her support and Senate Majority Leader Richardville for his leadership in moving the bill and supporting it."
Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for AnnArbor.com. Reach him at email@example.com or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to AnnArbor.com's email newsletters.