County Supports Medicaid Expansion

The Washtenaw County board of commissioners formally expressed its support for the state of Michigan to expand the federal Medicaid program, as part of the Affordable Care Act – informally known as Obamacare. A resolution of support, brought forward by commissioner Andy LaBarre (D-District 7), was approved at the board’s May 15, 2013 meeting on a 6-0 vote.  During deliberations, Dan Smith (R-District 2) voiced his objection to the county weighing in on state issues, but he left the room prior to the vote. Conan Smith (D-District 9) and Rolland Sizemore Jr. (D-District 5) were also not in the room during the vote.

Expansion of the Medicaid program would cover individuals and families earning up to 133% of the federal poverty level, and provide coverage for over 10,000 Washtenaw County residents who are not currently eligible. The resolution cites additional reasons to support the action:

Without the expansion, approximately 5,000 Washtenaw Health Plan (WHP) members will have no coverage options at all because their income is below 100% of poverty, thus by law, these individuals cannot buy subsidized coverage through the insurance exchange; and

WHP funding will be significantly cut on January 1, 2014, and ultimately eliminated completely, regardless of whether or not the state expands Medicaid, thus Washtenaw County’s ability to provide services to this population will be severely limited and these residents will be left to seek care in hospital emergency rooms, adding additional economic burdens to Washtenaw County residents who must indirectly pay those costs;

Republican Gov. Rick Snyder supports the expansion, but it’s not clear whether the Republican-controlled Michigan legislature will approve it.

This brief was filed from the boardroom of the county administration building, 220 N. Main in Ann Arbor. A more detailed report will follow: [link]