Working Together For Michigan Consumers To be Healthy

Federal Medicaid funding and Senate Bill 136 Update

Federal Medicaid Funding and Senate Bill 136 Update

By: Brett Williams, Mid-Michigan Coordinator, Michigan Consumers for Healthcare

Michigan is in a precarious position when it comes to strengthening Medicaid. According to testimony provided by the Department of Community Health (DCH) at Thursday’s budget hearings, it saves the state an estimated $150 million in General Fund dollars in its first year of implementation. House Fiscal Agency stated that “As a result of the Medicaid Expansion the proposed FY2013/14 budget includes a projection of an additional $1.5 billion in federal funds for the state… Including savings from the other programs listed, total estimated indirect savings would be $205.2 million GF/ GP in FY 2013/14.” So why are we in a precarious position? As of today, it has been stripped out of the appropriations budget.

Through numerous meetings with elected officials, there seems to be some contention from some officials that this is not good for the state. Michigan Consumers for Healthcare has done extensive research as to the impact expansion will have on the state. We found that extending Medicaid could potentially cover half of Michigan’s uninsured, will provide a bridge of coverage for veterans who are not yet receiving their VA benefits, would ensure rural hospitals will continue to receive funds to keep their doors open as well as help many people with disabilities who are unable to work full time and fail to qualify for benefits under the current system. Medicaid extension also affects some family members who may provide aid in their personal care needs.

We have a very large hurdle to overcome to get the additional Federal Medicaid funding placed back into the general budget. It is of great importance that you call or contact your state legislator and express to them the importance of this program and that the state can’t afford to forego the ability to save a potential $1.5 billion dollars as well as provide essential coverage for the citizens of Michigan.

Senate Bill 136 (SB136) know as the “Conscience Objection Legislation” is legislation that, if passed, would allow healthcare facilities, providers, institutions of learning and staff the ability to refuse to perform any procedure that may be against their moral, religious or ethical beliefs. Some have argued that this legislation is designed to aid the institutions named above from performing, or training people to perform abortions. This legislation reaches far deeper than that. It will also impact end of life decisions made by patients, it dramatically alters a person with disabilities right to treatment choices as well as limits a patient to receive needed care if that patient is at a healthcare facility that has an “objection” to the procedure the patient needs. The facility would not have to forewarn the patients prior to them arriving at the medical facility.  Many issues outlined above have not been addressed to any sort of degree. When brought to public testimony, it was voted out of the senate committee with 23 cards of opposition placed before the committee and only 3 in support. Testimony was limited to only 3 minutes per person with only 2 organizations testifying in favor of this legislation; countless in opposition. Currently, this has been referred to the Committee of the Whole. If passed by the Senate, it will be sent to the House of Representatives Health Policy Committee where more testimony will take place.

Once again, this is a dangerous piece of legislation that has the potential to dramatically impact many of our family members. Please call on your state legislator and let them know your position on a piece of legislation that strips away many patients’ rights.