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Study: Medicaid Expansion Working for State's Low Income Workers

The future of health insurance for the 600,000 Michiganders enrolled in the expanded Medicaid program is in the hands of the Obama administration. Courtesy: Michigan Consumers for Healthcare
The future of health insurance for the 600,000 Michiganders enrolled in the expanded Medicaid program is in the hands of the Obama administration. Courtesy: Michigan Consumers for Healthcare
October 2, 2015

LANSING, Mich. - They wait tables, build homes, care for loved ones and ring up purchases - and according to a new report, they make up the majority of enrollees in the Healthy Michigan program, the future of which currently is at stake.

Contrary to the notion that the expanded Medicaid program is a handout, a new study from Families USA found that more than 57 percent of the 600,000 low- to moderate-income Michiganders who have signed up for the program since it launched last year are employed.

Ryan Sullivan, policy director of Michigan Consumers for Healthcare, said reducing the number of uninsured has economic benefits for the entire state.

"That helps improve the quality of life of people in Michigan in general," he said, "as well as to ensure that productive workers can maintain their employment and economic security."

Last month, the state submitted a waiver asking the Obama administration to continue the program. The state law establishing the Healthy Michigan program requires the waiver's OK by year's end or else the Medicaid expansion will end.

Prior to the Medicaid expansion, said Suzin Greenway of White Oak Township, she was one of the many who fell through the cracks - earning too much to qualify for regular Medicaid but too little to qualify for subsidies on the Health Insurance Marketplace. Greenway, a farmer's market manager and cancer survivor, said Healthy Michigan has been nothing short of life changing.

"Should Michigan repeal expanded Medicaid in the future, I would live a very different life," she said, "one in fear of slipping and falling in winter, bee stings, deteriorating health, further skin cancer and more."

Under Medicaid expansion, which took effect in April 2014 and is part of the Affordable Care Act, the federal government pays 100 percent of the costs. Starting in 2017, states will begin paying a small portion of the costs, which will be capped at 10 percent in 2020.

The study is online at familiesusa.org.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - MI