I'm proposing a new policy for Michigan -- an expansion of Medicaid to provide health insurance for those Michiganders who need it most, while saving money and improving care for all of our citizens.
In the last two years, we've started to change the way government works in Michigan. We cut down on spending, eliminated our deficit, saved for the future, eliminated bad policies, and have taken services directly to the people. We're on a sound fiscal path, we've created more jobs, and our population is growing again.
But we still have a giant problem: Too many Michiganders don't have health insurance. And when they get sick, they either have nowhere to go or they wind up in the emergency room with no way to pay -- costing our citizens and state millions of dollars, while bringing down the quality of care for everyone.
In short, it's a dumb way of doing business, and we can do better.
That's why I'm proposing a solution: utilize federal funding to expand Medicaid and cover those in or near poverty (133 percent of the Federal Poverty Limit). Here are some numbers on how many people will be covered:
320,000 Michiganders will be covered in the first year
470,000 will be covered by 2021
Michigan's uninsured population will drop by about 46%
For those individuals, this new coverage means having access to quality, preventative care. It means they'll be able to get routine checkups. And it means that they won't head to the emergency room as a last resort when they need to see a doctor.
But what's it mean for our state? It's all about saving money by being smarter.
When uninsured people go to the emergency room for non-emergency care -- instead of seeing a primary care doctor -- it costs hospitals millions each year in uncompensated costs. By expanding Medicaid, people will have access to primary care doctors, saving Michigan hospitals those uncompensated care costs.
Job creators, too, will see savings with this law. Under the Affordable Care Act, they're required to either provide health care for their employees or pay a significant penalty. Many businesses have said they can't afford the costs -- that they'll have to shut their doors. By expanding Medicaid, we can provide an affordable option that will help businesses stay open while offering employees affordable health care.
With the choices that stand before us, this is the right path for Michigan. Not only are we saving money, but we're helping to improve the health of all Michiganders.