MLPP Blog: Factually Speaking

“Sabotage.” “What are you saying? Did you say sandwich?”

Added November 1st, 2017 by Emily Schwarzkopf | Email This Entry Email This Entry
Emily Schwarzkopf

I started at the League right before the holidays in 2016. In those early days, when people asked me about the status of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), I joked that I thought the ACA would be repealed before I figured out how to use the office microwave. (They even had some time because we had to replace the office microwave a few months ago.)

As we head into fall and I approach my one-year workaversary, the ACA is still here. But while it hasn’t been repealed, it is important that we not ignore the blatant sabotage being done to the ACA and our entire healthcare system.

Let’s take a look at just a few of the things that have been done:

  • On September 30, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) expired. CHIP provides health insurance to nearly 120,000 Michigan children, and without reauthorization states are forced to pick up the costs or cut off enrollment to the program. The U.S. Senate had agreed to a bipartisan deal before the last ditch effort to repeal and replace the ACA. The House is expected to vote on a bill this week that contains many of the important pieces of the Senate bipartisan deal to extend CHIP but has some concerning provisions intended to produce savings in Medicare and Medicaid. The bill also includes funding to support Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands that falls significantly short of the support families need following Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria.
  • The Trump administration has announced that they will allow employers to opt out of covering contraception for women based on moral or religious objection. This could affect nearly 1.9 million Michigan women.
  • The administration also announced a decision to end health insurance subsidies, known as cost-sharing reductions, that help low-income and middle-income customers pay out-of-pocket healthcare costs. This will only serve to add to the federal deficit and result in increased premiums. States have already announced decisions to increase premiums as a direct result of these payments being cut off
  • President Trump issued an executive order that calls on federal agencies to consider actions to create a “noncompliant” market that could mean plans that are exempt from ACA rules including pre-existing condition protections and essential health benefits. We will not know the full impact of this order until agencies go through the rulemaking process.
  • The Trump administration significantly cut funding for organizations charged with enrolling people into the ACA along with cutting funding to advertise and promote the open enrollment period.
  • The administration also shortened the enrollment period for people to sign up for health insurance and announced that the website to do so will be down for “maintenance” for 12 hours on Sundays during open enrollment.
Doug Mills - The New York Times

Doug Mills – The New York Times

While the Trump administration continues to find ways to undermine the ACA, there is some good news. Recently, Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee) and Patty Murray (D-Washington) announced a bipartisan agreement to stabilize the insurance market. The plan includes continued funding of cost-sharing reductions, restoring portions of cuts to ACA outreach and enrollment, expanding eligibility for “catastrophic plans,” and making changes to waivers that allow states to modify certain provisions of the ACA.

This proposed plan is a starting point and absolutely not perfect; however, in order to ease some of the uneasiness around the ACA and insurance markets, it must be enacted. This is something that remains to be seen, and if the plan does receive action, what—if any—additional reforms or funding might also be included?

As we’ve seen for many years, and especially evident during the first 10 months of the Trump administration, is that healthcare is still highly political. It really is something lawmakers cannot seem to move past. Whether it is the showy legislative attempts to repeal the progress made with the ACA, the less publicized expiration of CHIP or the harmful attacks on the upcoming open enrollment—we promise to make sure you know about it.

BONUS: If you were wondering about the title of my blog, it’s from one of my favorite episodes of The Office—BEACH GAMES!

— Emily Schwarzkopf, Policy Analyst

Happy 50th anniversary Medicaid

Added July 30th, 2015 by Jan Hudson | Email This Entry Email This Entry
Jan Hudson

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the bill signing that created the Medicaid and Medicare programs. Michigan’s John Dingell was present at the signing in 1965, and in recent years continued to push for Medicaid expansion in Michigan that is helping so many more individuals today. (more…)

Supreme Court ruling affirms ACA the law of the land — the whole land

Added June 25th, 2015 by Jan Hudson | Email This Entry Email This Entry
Jan Hudson

The Supreme Court ruling announced today once again affirms the Affordable Care Act as the “law of the land” and continues federal subsidies for those who qualify and who purchase healthcare coverage through the federal Marketplace, also known as Healthcare.gov. (more…)

Let’s pass reasonable workplace policies

Added June 11th, 2015 by Peter Ruark | Email This Entry Email This Entry
Peter Ruark

Most of us agree that the best way to support ourselves and our families is through work. Our society places great value on working hard to move ahead. Yet, as a new Michigan League for Public Policy paper explains, workplace policies can be as much a hindrance to moving ahead as low wages.

The League paper is being released the same day that a Senate committee voted to pre-empt local governments from enacting workplace ordinances, such as earned sick leave.

(more…)

Action needed for 600,000 Michiganians to keep health coverage

Added May 11th, 2015 by Jan Hudson | Email This Entry Email This Entry
Jan Hudson

The Healthy Michigan Plan, Michigan’s Medicaid expansion, has been in the news recently both because of its unprecedented enrollment success, and because for the program to continue, state law requires approval of a new federal waiver. Without the waiver, the Healthy Michigan Plan ends April 30, 2016 under current law and 600,000 Michigan residents lose their healthcare coverage.

The Healthy Michigan Plan law specifies that: (more…)

Healthy Michigan plan surpasses all expectations by first anniversary

Added April 1st, 2015 by Jan Hudson | Email This Entry Email This Entry
Jan Hudson

The Healthy Michigan Plan, Michigan’s Medicaid expansion program, celebrates its first anniversary today. What an amazing year it has been for the program – with enrollment currently just over 600,000! The governor’s budget for 2015 estimated enrollment at 400,000 and 450,000 for budget year 2016. The budget released in February 2015 revised those estimates upward to 540,000 for 2015 and 580,000 for 2016. Those forecasts already have been surpassed – and it’s only April. (more…)

Children’s Health Insurance Program in jeopardy

Added March 25th, 2015 by Jan Hudson | Email This Entry Email This Entry
Jan Hudson

More than 40,000 Michigan children could be at risk of losing their healthcare coverage if Congress doesn’t act and approve funding to continue the Children’s Health Insurance Program. A compromise was reached last Friday between House Democratic and Republican leaders to extend funding for two years with the current policies. While this is not perfect (a four-year funding extension under current policies would have been preferable), it is better than the proposal developed by the House and Senate chairs of the committees responsible for CHIP. The House committee chair is Michigan’s Representative Fred Upton who now will have the opportunity to support the compromise and be a champion for 40,000 Michigan children. If the compromise passes the House, efforts are expected in the Senate to strengthen the funding extension to four years under current policies. (more…)

Supreme Court: Another chance to affirm ACA as the law of the land — the whole land

Added March 4th, 2015 by Jan Hudson | Email This Entry Email This Entry
Jan Hudson

There is a lot at stake for about 300,000 Michiganians as the U.S. Supreme Court begins consideration of the King v. Burwell case today.

This case will  determine whether the Affordable Care Act permits the federal government to provide premium tax credits to qualifying individuals anywhere in the U.S. or only in states that established their own Health Insurance Marketplaces.

An adverse ruling in this case could eliminate these tax credits established in the law to make coverage more affordable. It is hard to imagine that Congress would have intended to pick winners and losers for healthcare coverage in such an arbitrary and surreptitious manner. (more…)

President urging seven paid sick days a year

Added January 16th, 2015 by Peter Ruark | Email This Entry Email This Entry
Peter Ruark

Imagine a line cook with a head cold having to turn aside and sneeze every few minutes while preparing your lunch. Or a couple of workers fighting the flu while caring for your child at a daycare center. Or your child sitting in school with a lot of sick classmates whose parents could not take the day off to care for them.

This kind of thing probably happens more than we would like to think, because many workers lose pay if they miss work due to sickness.

Thursday, President Obama urged  Congress to pass the Healthy Families Act, a law that would require employers to give their workers at least seven paid sick days each year. He also urged states and municipalities to pass similar laws. (more…)

Another milestone for the Healthy Michigan Plan

Added December 12th, 2014 by Jan Hudson | Email This Entry Email This Entry
Jan Hudson

The Healthy Michigan Plan reached another milestone this week with enrollment topping 481,000. That number exceeds the original enrollment projection of 477,000 for the entire program. It was expected to take two years to achieve full enrollment.

What an accomplishment in nine months!

The best part is that enrollees are actually receiving healthcare services. According to the Department of Community Health, more than 315,000 primary care and preventive care visits have occurred since the program was implemented. Enrollees are clearly engaged in improving their health and taking advantage of the services now available to them to do so. (more…)

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