ANN ARBOR — Mid-sized employers gearing up for mandated health coverage under the federal Affordable Care Act had a chance Monday to listen to the experts from Massachusetts, which has had a state version of so-called Obamacare for years now.

The University of Michigan’s Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation, along with UM’s schools of public health and public policy sponsored “Massachusetts Comes to Michigan: Lessons About Health Care Reform From Business Leaders.”

About 200 were expected for the event, held in the Walter and Leonore Annenberg Auditorium, 1120 Weill Hall at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, 735 S. State St., Ann Arbor.
Participating were Rick Lord, president and CEO of Associated Industries of Massachusetts,  and Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayer Foundation, along with Helen Levy, an economics professor at UM, and Rob Fowler, president of the Small Business Association of Michigan.

“They wanted to share the perspective of Massachusetts business,” Fowler said.

Fowler said SBAM opposed the Affordable Care Act, but “now that it’s the law of the land, we’re trying to understand the lay of the land, trying to understand how to make it work for business.”

One portion of the ACA, expanding eligibility for the government’s Medicaid insurance for low-income people from the current 33 percent of poverty income level for single people to 134 percent, could cut health care costs for business.

“We think Medicaid expansion has a direct positive impact in the state of Michigan,” Fowler said. “Uncompensated care now gets passed on to the paying customers. That’s us. Bringing $1.5 billion to $2 billion a year of Medicaid expansion into the state will cut those pass-along costs.”

Of course, that Medicaid expansion will have to be paid for somehow, he added.


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