Traverse City Record-Eagle

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April 18, 2013

Forum: In support of state Medicaid expansion

As an osteopathic physician and member of the Michigan Osteopathic Association, I am writing to express my support for Gov. Rick Snyder’s plan to expand Medicaid coverage in Michigan to families making less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level.

This plan will:

- Help reduce Michigan’s overall health care costs by encouraging low-income families to use primary physicians rather than expensive emergency rooms for routine health care, reducing cost shifting.

It is estimated that up to $1,000 of the annual cost of a health insurance premium for a family of four is to cover uncompensated care. The expansion will reduce this hidden health care tax paid by insured individuals, families and businesses.

- Save the state money, immediately. State tax dollars now used for low-income mental health programs will be replaced with federal dollars. Gov. Snyder has proposed setting those funds and additional savings into a Medicaid Health Savings Account, to help meet state matching requirements as federal support is reduced.

- Improve the health of hundreds of thousands of Michigan residents, making it easier for them to find good-paying jobs. Research has found that people with health insurance are healthier than the uninsured. Those without health insurance coverage do not seek treatment, or end up in emergency room, hospital, or criminal justice settings that are more costly in addressing their illness.

- Provide coverage options for small businesses and creates a healthier workforce that will improve the state’s economic competitiveness. Workers at many small Michigan companies do not get insurance from their employers.

Medicaid expansion will cover low-wage working adults — employed Michigan workers whose jobs do not have health insurance and whose incomes are too low to afford coverage.

- Create 18,000 new health care jobs and generate $2.1 billion in new economic activity in Michigan.

Michigan’s health care delivery system of hospitals, community health centers and health plan networks has stated repeatedly that it has the capacity to treat the newly enrolled under Medicaid expansion.

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