Solving our healthcare nightmare -- it's no joke

Tue, 2013-04-02 15:55

Let’s face it. It’s clear our healthcare system is a nightmare. It’s also clear that a solution is within reach.

Uncompensated care is killing our hospitals and shifting costs to the insured, making benefits harder for families and employers to afford. Many uninsured forgo preventive care, and that often ends badly – in emergency rooms with life-threatening illnesses.

And more than 1 million people in Michigan lost employer-sponsored health insurance over the last decade.

Now imagine that we have a solution and a way to pay for it! Wouldn’t that be a dream come true, boosting our economy, creating a healthier workforce and giving people the care they so sorely need?

Next, imagine our elected officials saying ‘No’ to that solution. I’d like to be able to say:  “April Fools! – I’m just kidding. Who would turn that down?”

Unfortunately, it’s no joke, and you don’t have to stretch your imagination very far. This is exactly what’s happening in Michigan.

A House subcommittee on the Department of Community Health budget voted in March to eliminate the governor's recommended funding for Medicaid expansion, a key element of the Affordable Care Act. Gov. Rick Snyder has embraced the expansion to very low-income uninsured single adults and parents.

His budget uses savings from Medicaid expansion to invest in a host of positive public health initiatives, including expanding Healthy Kids Dental to more than 70,000 children, improving mental health care for veterans, children and youth and reducing infant mortality.

Medicaid expansion has been endorsed by doctors and hospitals, small business officials, advocates, university researchers and budget officials and even Wall Street. 
Without expansion, an estimated 320,000 (other estimates place it at 400,000 to 600,000 people) uninsured in our state will slip through the cracks and into what we’re calling the “coverage chasm.’’

Without expansion, Michigan will lose an estimated 18,000 new jobs that are expected to be created from the new federal healthcare dollars.

Without expansion, savings expected from covering mentally ill with Medicaid instead of state dollars will not be realized. Without expansion, federal dollars will not flow to our hospitals and doctors to care for Michigan people. To make things worse, if we don't accept the federal funds, we'll be a donor state and our tax dollars will flow to other states.
The Affordable Care Act is the national law. Many other states are moving forward on it, deciding that helping people and providers and state economies trumps ideology.
Michigan needs to join them. If you haven’t already, please sign this petition telling our legislative leaders to support Gov. Snyder’s call for Medicaid expansion.