DEARBORN (WWJ/AP) – Gov. Rick Snyder checked off one of the major priorities of his first term on Monday, signing into law a measure that will make hundreds of thousands of state residents eligible for Medicaid.
Snyder’s signature at the ceremony at Oakwood Hospital in Dearborn makes Michigan the largest state controlled by Republicans to support a key component of the new federal health care law.
It will expand the government health insurance program to almost a half-million Michigan residents within a few years, nearly halving the state’s uninsured. An estimated 320,000 are expected to be eligible in late March if the federal government OKs the plan.
“We’ve got a lot of hard work to go, now that this legislation comes in place, to get people signed up; to educate people about how we need to do this appropriately; about how we can do personal responsibility and wellness with people in need, and create this better system.” said Snyder, speaking alongside legislators and hospital staffers Monday morning.
Medicaid expansion is part of a strategy to ensure that nearly all Americans have health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. It was designed to cover the neediest uninsured people yet became optional for states because of a Supreme Court decision.
Snyder said this is a day to celebrate.
“Four-hundreds-and-seventy-thousands people who were having to rely on the ER for their basic health care — what a failure that is,” Snyder said. “It’s a failure in terms of waiting often (until when it is) too late to get the kind of care they needed or having a very chronic condition … It was just a bad answer.”
“It’s also a win for our small and medium-sized businesses,” Snyder added, “in terms of making us more competitive, which will lead to more jobs and more opportunity.”
Congressman John Dingell, a proponent of the Affordable Care Act, was in attendance for the signing.
“It’s only a part of a very large piece of legislation,” Dingell said. “There are faults with that legislation and frankly, we should be taking the governor’s course in trying to ferret those out and correct them.”
Many GOP-led states opposed to “Obamacare” have declined the expansion, despite the U.S. government promising to cover the entire cost for the first three years and 90 percent later. Michigan becomes just the third state where the GOP also controls the Legislature to accept it – joining Arizona and North Dakota.
The program already covers one in five Michigan residents, mainly low-income children, pregnant women, the disabled and some poorer working adults. The expansion will cover adults making up to 133 percent of the poverty level – $15,500 for an individual, $26,500 for a family of three.
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