Growing and strengthening west Michigan's middle class
LANSING March 9, 2017– Michigan Public Radio’s Senior Political Analyst Jack Lessenberry issued a stark warning against the Republicans’ Affordable Care Act replacement bill yesterday: Passing it would be an economic and human disaster for the state of Michigan.
Lessenberry, in an op-ed published at MichiganRadio.org, focused primarily on the effects of repealing Michigan’s Medicaid expansion, known as the Healthy Michigan Plan.
Much of his argument was targeted toward fiscal conservatives, explaining how repealing Health Michigan would cripple our state’s economy.
More than three years after the Affordable Care Act – Obamacare — was passed by Congress, Michigan used one of its provisions to expand Medicaid to Americans who are still by any measure poor, but not quite below official poverty levels.
We’re talking about providing health care to folks who make no more than $33,000 for a family of four. Here, that’s called the Healthy Michigan Plan, and by any measure, it has provided a tremendous boost for our state’s economy.
Governor Rick Snyder barely managed to get it through the legislature, in part by arguing that it would provide employers with a healthier workforce. It has indeed done that – but it has paid other dividends as well.
In fact, the Healthy Michigan plan is having a positive net impact on the state’s economy that is in the billions – much of it going to the private sector.
Here’s just one hard fact. The year before the Healthy Michigan plan kicked in, Michigan hospitals spent $627 million dollars on uncompensated care they provided free of charge to the poor and the sick. The year after Healthy Michigan kicked in, that had fallen by exactly $300 million. That’s money often struggling hospitals have that they didn’t have before.
Most of the costs of the Healthy Michigan plan are being paid for by federal, not state government. But on balance, it isn’t costing the taxpayers anything. A University of Michigan study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in January indicated that the positive economic effects of this Medicaid expansion will generate more than enough money for the state budget to cover the costs of the entire program for at least the next five years.
The U of M study found the ripple effects of Healthy Michigan generate more than 30,000 new jobs every year – most in the private sector. They generate billions in spending power and hundreds of millions in tax revenue. This has been a tremendous boon for our state.
In addition to economic benefits, making sure more Michigan residents have access to healthcare– and aren’t sick, dying or bankrupted by medical bills– is just the right thing to do, Lessenberry also added.
I suppose, if you were one of those bleeding heart liberals, you might say something to the effect that the program would be worth it in any event, because it means people, many of them children, are healthy who would otherwise be sick.
[Repealing the ACA and scaling back the Medicaid expansion] would obviously be an economic and human disaster for our state. You might want to read as much as you can about this, and then let your Congressman know what you think. Before, that is, it’s too late.