Michigan Consumers for Healthcare: Legislative Update with Brett Williams, Central Michigan Coordinator
Michigan Consumers for Healthcare: Legislative Update
Chelsea Lewis, social media coordinator for Michigan Consumers for Healthcare sat down with Brett Williams, central Michigan coordinator and business expert, to discuss the current climate in the Michigan legislature regarding Medicaid expansion and the currently Michigan marketplace.
Chelsea: What is the current standing of Medicaid expansion in the Michigan legislature?
Brett: Medicaid expansion is one of the most critical issues facing our state legislature in decades. It will provide the state with the ability to increase access to healthcare to over 400,000 hard working Michigan residents. Originally, the funding for Medicaid expansion was placed within the Michigan Department of Community Health’s annual budget. Through the legislative process, this particular portion of the budget was removed. Several legislators tried to reintroduce this portion of the budget through expanded negotiations as well as amendments to the bill before the house appropriations sub-committee. All efforts to restore the appropriation funding failed. At this point, we must circle our wagons and create a strong consumer voice to let our state legislators know how important this is to our state.
What is the legislative timeline regarding Medicaid expansion?
Brett: Now is the time. Even though the budget process continues to move forward, the fight is not over. There are several more stages the process must go through before the full budget is delivered to the Governor for his signature. The reintroduction of Medicaid expansion can happen at several different stages of the process; either in the House or Senate. But the bottom line is the process continues to move forward and we, the consumers of Michigan, must let our elected officials know that the citizens in this state want access to quality healthcare.
What type of health exchange will Michigan have? Federal? State Exchange?
Brett: To bring everyone up to speed, the term “Exchange” has been replaced by the term “Marketplace” from the department of Health and Human Services (HHS). They thought the name Exchange was not a true representation of the type of services being offered to individuals and businesses who purchased products through this portal. Michigan has had several opportunities to coordinate a state run Marketplace but the house of representative decided not to move on SB693 in the 2011/2012 legislative session. Governor Rick Snyder has been steadfast on the position that Michigan has as much control over the marketplace as possible. However, due to the direction of the house and senate leadership, all efforts to enter into a state-based or partnership model marketplace have been squashed. With this being said, it looks like Michigan will have a Federally Facilitated Marketplace. There continues to be some talk of Michigan reserving some plan management features, but for the most part, it will most likely be a federally operated marketplace
How can consumers get more involved with the legislative process?
Brett: First and foremost, people must remember that the legislators they elected are there to serve them! Everyone, regardless of who you are or what you do, can be involved in the legislative process. The most important thing a person can do is very simple, talk to your elected official. Let that person know how important Medicaid expansion is to you and the state of Michigan. Share your personal stories with your legislator. One way or another, this issue touches every single family in Michigan. I had the fantastic opportunity to work with the Developmental Disability Council to help organize their Legislative Advocacy Day. It was amazing how this issue touched so many lives and how they shared their stories with their elective representation from the House and Senate. This is the type of involvement that shifts legislative opinion. You can also take action by Michigan Consumers for Healthcare (MCH) “Call to Action” alerts. This is a very simple process that literally only takes a minute. And please, send out these action alerts to as many friends and family members as you feel comfortable doing so. The more our state legislators know what their constituents are passionate about, the more change we will see across the state.
Where can consumers get up to date information on the Michigan legislature?
Brett: There are several avenues where people can be brought up-to-date on legislative issues. First, MCH’s website has many of the current issues facing consumers posted in an easy to understand format. We take the “politics” out of “politics.” Issues discussed on our website are broken down and written in a way that explains exactly what the issues are and what the consumers of the state are facing if specific legislative initiatives are advanced. You can also contact your regional coordinator to find out what is happening in the state legislature. Ryan Sullivan is located and services the Bay county area, Steven Hernandez is located and services the South Eastern portion of Michigan, I’m located and services the Mid-Michigan area and Eli Isaguirre is located and services the west and northern region of the state. Regional Coordinators contact information is located on MCH’s website on the main page under the tab “Who We Are” in the upper left portion. Please feel free to contact your regional coordinator directly. You can also become involved with the legislative process by attending committee meetings and visiting the offices of your state legislator. The committee meetings are posted daily (Monday –Wednesday afternoon) for meetings occurring that week and Friday for meetings occurring the following week. MCH will do our best to post critical committee meetings on our website.
How will Medicaid expansion and the health care exchange impact consumers in Michigan?