Affordable Care Act – Reasons to be grateful

Recent employment numbers and unemployment rates should dispel the “job killer” label and negative predictions of those who oppose the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The national unemployment rate in March 2010, the month the ACA was signed into law, was 9.9%. The unemployment rate in October 2015 was 5.0%, nearly a 50% reduction. In addition, significant employment gains—jobs—have been made over this same period.

The Brookings Institution noted in their ACA fifth anniversary blog, “Of course, the drop in unemployment and rise in payroll jobs might have been even faster if the ACA had not passed. Nonetheless, it is not easy to make a convincing case that job gains have lagged since the President signed the health insurance law.” The following figure illustrates this point.

 Source: Brookings, March 20, 2015

The uninsured rate has also been declining in large measure due to coverage gains from full implementation of the ACA. Healthcare coverage can be purchased through the Marketplace, with premium and cost-sharing subsidies for low- to moderate-income purchasers, and a majority of states have now expanded Medicaid (31 currently, including D.C.).

The November 2015 release of the National Health Uninsured Survey for the first half of 2015 reported that at the time of the interview the national uninsured rate had dropped from 16.0% in 2010 to 9.0% for the January–June 2015 period. The largest decline, more than 50%, came in the young adult age group (19–25 years) where the uninsured rate fell from 33.9% in 2010 to 15.9% for the first half of 2015. In Michigan, the uninsured rate at the time of the interview dropped from 12.2% in 2010 to 6.7% in 2015 according to the Survey.

For the first time in more than 50 years, more than 90% of Americans/Michiganians have healthcare coverage.

While the reduction in the rate and number of uninsured is very encouraging, there is work yet to be done. A number of counties in Michigan still have double-digit uninsured rates, while the uninsured rates for African-Americans and Hispanics remain much higher than the rate for whites, according to Enroll Michigan’s recent report.

There is also good news from David Brooks in his recent NY Times Op-Ed where he cited annual healthcare price growth from March 2010 through August 2015 as the slowest in 50 years. This historically low growth has led to substantial reductions in projected federal healthcare spending and significant improvements in future budget outlooks. As Brooks observes, “We seem to be making at least some incremental progress toward a structural reduction in health care inflation… We haven’t whipped healthcare inflation, or defeated our intractable budget issues. But the evidence suggests we’re landing a few serious blows.”

The number of 50-year records being broken or exceeded and the number of 50% gains is stunning. The Affordable Care Act has achieved a number of historic milestones. The law is not perfect and much could and should be done to improve it, but for the moment, let’s acknowledge these great accomplishments and be grateful.

– Jan Hudson

Good news: The ACA is working as intended

It has been said many times before, but bears repeating—the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is doing what it was designed to do. The ACA has succeeded in providing quality healthcare coverage and reducing the number of uninsured, and with its consumer protections, fewer individuals are experiencing trouble paying medical bills. According to a recent Gallup Poll, only Texas maintains an uninsured rate greater than 20% of its residents, no state has reported a statistically significant increase since 2013, and seven states through the first half of 2015 have uninsured rates that are at or below 5%. (more…)

Healthy Michigan plan surpasses all expectations by first anniversary

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…)

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

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…)

400,000 reasons to give thanks

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As we head into the month of November, there are more than 400,000 reasons to give thanks.

That’s how many previously uninsured or underinsured people in Michigan are now able to access healthcare thanks to the Healthy Michigan Plan.

The plan passed the Michigan Legislature last year with bipartisan support as part of Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. About half the states have taken this step to improve the health of their citizens.

The League was part of a strong, diverse coalition that supported the expansion. Those efforts are now bearing an amazing amount of fruit. (more…)

Healthy Michigan plan enrollment tops 275,000

Enrollment in the Healthy Michigan Plan as of June 2 totals 276,622. This is truly remarkable considering the program was implemented just over two months ago on April 1. Genesee County, at 98.5%, has enrolled the highest percentage of those potentially eligible. What a great achievement.

The Healthy Michigan Plan is Michigan’s unique Medicaid expansion plan. It provides comprehensive healthcare coverage to Michigan’s low-income uninsured residents. To be eligible for the program, an individual must be between the ages of 19 and 64, not currently eligible for Medicaid or Medicare, a citizen or lawfully admitted to the U.S., and have income less than 133% of the federal poverty level (up to $15,521 for an individual or $31,721 for a family of four).

Application for the program can be made by phone (1-855-789-5610), online at, or in person at a local Department of Human Services office. Applications made through the on-line system can have eligibility determined in a matter of minutes and sometimes even seconds. (more…)

Healthy Michigan Plan gets healthy start!

The Healthy Michigan Plan, Michigan’s Medicaid expansion, opened for enrollment on April 1, and within the first 72 hours, 36,329 applications were submitted through the MIBridges website and 20,995 were approved for coverage. By Tuesday, the number of enrolled shot up to 59,280 — an amazing number for a two-week period.  That means that more than 109,000 people are now covered, including those who were transferred over to the plan from the Adult Benefits Waiver program.

The program is off to a great start — great news for Michigan’s low-income uninsured. The online enrollment system is working well with the majority of applications being processed in a matter of minutes or even seconds. (more…)

Attorney general needs to move on

Attorney General Bill Schuette continues his fight to harm Michiganians by pursuing frivolous lawsuits against the Affordable Care Act.

First he fought to have the law declared unconstitutional and lost — the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the ACA does not violate the Constitution. Now he is fighting to end the premium tax credits for more than 144,000 Michiganians who have so far qualified for them.

Nearly 87% of those who have enrolled in a health plan in Michigan are eligible for premium tax credits to help them pay their insurance premiums. Why would he want to harm more than 144,000 people in his state — his neighbors, his friends, his constituents? (more…)

Healthy Michigan Plan enrollment opens April 1

The Department of Community Health has announced open enrollment will begin for the Healthy Michigan Plan on April 1. This long-awaited announcement is great news for Michigan’s low-income uninsured residents.

Starting next week, adults (ages 19-64) in families with incomes below 133% of the federal poverty level (up to $15,521 for an individual or $31,721 for a family of four) who are not currently eligible for Medicaid or Medicare, and not pregnant, will be able to apply for the comprehensive coverage offered by the Healthy Michigan Plan. Citizenship, or lawful admittance to the U.S., is also required. (more…)

MI exceeds healthcare enrollment target

Enrollment in healthcare plans under the Affordable Care Act is picking up steam, particularly in Michigan.

Nationwide, more than 4 million people have enrolled in healthcare coverage through a state-operated exchange or the federal Marketplace through Feb. 26. And in Michigan, more than 112,000 individuals have enrolled in a plan through Feb. 1, placing Michigan 12% above its federally set target for the period and one of only a handful of states to exceed its enrollment target. (more…)

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