Recently, I returned from Health Action 2013, Families USA’s great annual healthcare conference.
While my head was spinning and ready to explode from all the good information I gained, I was energized to work tirelessly on the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, particularly the Medicaid expansion (expanding eligibility for Medicaid to 133% of the federal poverty level) and Michigan’s federal-state partnership exchange.
Do you know that it is less than seven months until the new health insurance marketplaces or exchanges, must be up and running and ready to accept applications? Just Thursday, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced approval of a federal-state exchange in Michigan — subject to the Michigan Legislature’s approval.
At the Health Action 2013 conference, one of the key messages shared by Anton Gunn, Department of Health and Human Services, was that there is still so much work to be done that we need “all hands on deck” to effectively implement, including outreach and enrollment, the new health insurance marketplace. I couldn’t agree more and am pleased that the Michigan House recently approved HB4111 to provide federal funds for the state-federal partnership exchange development to begin. A group of business leaders this week stepped up to urge the Senate to approve the legislation.
The plenary sessions at the conference were filled with top-notch presenters, including such experts as Uwe Reinhardt, Princeton University economist, Gary Cohen and Cindy Mann, Department of Health and Human Services, Bob Greenstein, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Elliot Fisher, Dartmouth, and as a surprise, Michigan’s Senator Debbie Stabenow. The conference closed with a rousing and inspirational presentation by Sister Simone Campbell, Nuns on the Bus.
Her message was striking because she talked about the importance of the 100%, not the 99% or the 1%, but all of us – ‘we the people.’ She spoke of the importance of addressing our current (since 9/11) culture of fear and division, “us versus them,” and working for the good of all.
Security is based in community and in relationships, not in trying to “go it alone.” The Medicaid expansion is about community, she asserted, and providing opportunities to live healthy prosperous lives. She shared a photo of a friend for whom the Medicaid expansion and healthcare coverage did not come in time.
It was heartening to hear Gov. Rick Snyder, only a few days after I returned, announce his enthusiastic support for the Medicaid expansion. It is now up to lawmakers to turn this unprecedented opportunity into reality for hundreds of thousands of their constituents.
— Jan Hudson