Healthy Michigan Plan moves forward

Added January 2nd, 2014 by Jan Hudson | Email This Entry Email This Entry
Jan Hudson

Great news to start the year! The federal government Monday approved Michigan’s request to expand Medicaid eligibility through a new program, the Healthy Michigan Plan.

This action brings Michigan one step closer to providing comprehensive coverage to Michigan’s low-income, uninsured residents.

It has been a long, tough road to get to this point.

The Legislature rejected the governor’s February recommendation to expand Medicaid. Instead, each chamber developed its own proposal, taking all summer to deliberate. Final approval did not come until early September, and while the legislation assumed a Jan. 1, 2014 implementation date, the Senate denied that effective date, delaying implementation until April.

The Department of Community Health is working diligently to design the program to meet the requirements of the state and federal laws.  With details of the Healthy Michigan Plan still being developed, little specific information is available, including the enrollment process and timing. As information on the program and enrollment process becomes available, it will be provided through the Healthy Michigan Plan website.  In addition, those with text messaging can receive phone updates by texting InfoMI to 69866.

Once the new program is operational, Medicaid applications denied on or after Oct. 1, 2013 will be reprocessed to determine Healthy Michigan Plan eligibility.

The Healthy Michigan Plan will provide the 10 comprehensive services required by the Affordable Care Act — plus additional key benefits such as dental, vision, and enhanced substance use disorder services —  to the uninsured who are:

•    not currently eligible for Medicaid,
•    between the ages of 19 and 64 and not eligible for Medicare,
•    citizens or lawfully admitted to the U.S., and
•    have income less than 133% of the federal poverty level (up to $15,282 for an individual or $31,322 for a family of four).

Most people will select and be enrolled in a private managed care plan of their choice.

Wellness and healthy behaviors, a major emphasis of the Affordable Care Act, will be a key focus of the Healthy Michigan Plan. Wellness programs will be developed with both stakeholder input and the opportunity for enrollees to reduce their copays. The copays for services will be the same as the current Medicaid program.

In addition, those with incomes between 100% ($11,490 for an individual or $23,550 for a family of four) and 133% of the federal poverty level will also be required to pay up to 2% of their incomes into MI Health accounts. Payments into the account can also come from other sources, such as employers or charitable organizations.

Of key importance for these low-income enrollees is the provision of the waiver that specifies no enrollee will be terminated from the program for failure to pay copays or contributions into a MI Health account.

Implementation of the Healthy Michigan Plan will benefit Michigan’s economy while reducing the uncompensated care costs, shifted to Michigan taxpayers and businesses.

There is still much work to be done, but Michigan is poised to develop the plan to provide comprehensive, quality healthcare coverage to low-income, uninsured Michiganians. The federal approval to proceed with the HMP, together with the vision of the Medicaid Director, Steve Fitton, to focus on changing systems, not just changing people, gives reason to celebrate the New Year!

— Jan Hudson

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