Snyder does right and healthy thing by backing Medicaid expansion
Gov. Rick Snyder surely did the sensible thing Wednesday when he bucked Obamacare-phobic ideologues in his own party and recommended that state lawmakers embrace a federal initiative to extend Medicaid eligibility to hundreds of thousands of uninsured Michiganders.
The program Snyder endorsed would extend health care coverage to households whose earnings barely exceed the federal poverty level by up to 33 percent -- $11,702 for a single person with no children and $23,021 for a family of four. The federal government would bear the cost of the expanded coverage for three years, after which the state would gradually assume an expanding share until it reaches 10 percent of the total cost.
But health care providers and advocates for the uninsured argue that the state will actually save money -- as much as $1 billion in the first decade -- if fewer residents have to rely on expensive emergency room facilities to address non-life-threatening illnesses and injuries.
And since Michigan can opt out of the expanded eligibility if it proves unsustainable in the future, it's hard to disagree with Michigan League for Public Policy president Gilda Jacobs' contention that Michigan's agreement to participate at this point is an option without a downside.
Critics are reasonable to worry that initiatives to deliver medical care more efficiently won't generate sufficient savings to offset the costs of expanded coverage in the short run. But bringing more working families under the umbrella of managed care is surely an improvement over a status quo that virtually guarantees low efficiency.
The same Supreme Court ruling that established Obamacare's fundamental constitutionality struck down mandatory Medicaid expansion, holding that states must avail themselves voluntarily of the opportunity to expand eligibility. Gov. Snyder's recommendation that Michigan do so is the most responsible choice for both Michigan's uninsured and the taxpayers who ultimately bear the cost of their care.
Detroit Free Press