Traverse City Record-Eagle


April 2, 2014

Michigan Medicaid expansion start draws 11,848

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — When Thomas Booth's mom told him he needed health insurance, he knew she was speaking from experience. As a breast cancer patient, his mom has relied on her Medicaid coverage for years of treatment, he said.

"She's been worried about me. She has stage-four breast cancer, so she understands the process of, if you get hurt or sick, it does cost a lot of money," Booth said.

That's why Booth, 24, was one of thousands of Michigan residents who signed up on day one for Michigan's expanded Medicaid plan, which is intended to provide health insurance for hundreds of thousands more low-income adults.

Enrollment began Tuesday for Healthy Michigan, which extends Medicaid eligibility to adults making up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $16,000 for an individual and $33,000 for a family of four.

By 4 p.m. Tuesday, 11,848 applications had been received, and 4,152 had been automatically approved, according to the Department of Community Health. The state expects 320,000 residents to sign up in the first 12 months. The number could grow as high as 470,000 over time.

Gov. Rick Snyder fought last year to persuade fellow Republicans in the Legislature to agree to the Medicaid expansion under President Barack Obama's health care law. Twenty-six states and Washington, D.C. are expanding Medicaid this year, and most began the program in January.

"Today's launch marks a significant milestone in our ongoing efforts for a healthier Michigan," Snyder said in a statement. "The Healthy Michigan Plan is about improving the health and wellbeing of our citizens, saving money for taxpayers and job providers and ensuring our state's continued comeback."

The federal government will cover all Medicaid costs for the first three years of the program. By 2020, Michigan will pay 10 percent of costs and the federal government will pay 90 percent.

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