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.

It is hard to imagine the peace of mind and improved quality of life this program has brought to hundreds of thousands of low-income individuals and their families. As of March 30, nearly five of six individuals enrolled in the program have incomes at or below the federal poverty level, about $11,800 per year for one person or $24,300 for a family of four. They can see a doctor for annual check-ups, obtain the medications they need to manage chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or cancer, or seek treatment when they are ill or injured.
Current enrollment is just over half female at 51%. The largest enrollment by age category is 164,000 enrollees between the ages of 25 and 34, the age group that was most likely to be uninsured prior to implementation of the Affordable Care Act. What peace of mind for the parents of these enrollees knowing that their young adults have healthcare coverage and won’t start their careers or adulthood in financial ruin from medical debt.

Those enrolled in the program are taking advantage of the opportunity to take control of their health and are receiving the services available to them. According to the Department of Community Health, more than 380,000 primary care and preventive care visits occurred in the first 10 months of the program. Enrollees are clearly engaged in improving their health and managing their chronic diseases with nearly half choosing to follow-up on their chronic diseases by themselves or in combination with other healthy behaviors, such as weight loss.

Under the program, enrollees also can receive incentives for tackling health issues or maintaining healthy behaviors. In addition, those with chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or depression, will be better able to manage their conditions with no copays that create obstacles to care.

While the enrollment system and implementation have not been without bumps in the road, the fact that more than 600,000 Michigan residents have gained high- quality healthcare coverage is simply amazing!

The Department of Community Health deserves a great deal of credit for the success of this program to date, but the governor and lawmakers deserve the credit for approving the legislation that created the program. Happy anniversary!

– Jan Hudson

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

From the First Tuesday newsletter
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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.

In just six months, enrollment exceeded the first-year expectations.

Just how phenomenal this is in Michigan is evident in the League’s latest interactive map. On the map below, hover your mouse over a county. You will find an estimate of the uninsured and how many people signed up for the Healthy Michigan Plan in just the first six months. In all, more than 400,000 have enrolled.

In some counties, there are more enrolled than previously thought were uninsured! While some of these may have had limited insurance and were really underinsured, it’s a good benchmark to gauge the level of tremendous need.

Genesee County is particularly notable with a large number of its residents joining the plan.

The Affordable Care Act is indeed the gift that keeps on giving. Besides offering comprehensive healthcare coverage to thousands of low-income adults, many of them holding full-time jobs, the Affordable Care Act has offered many positive benefits, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:

  • Nearly 273,000 in Michigan have signed up for insurance through the Marketplace. Enrollment begins again Nov. 15.
  • There are 94,000 young adults in Michigan benefiting from the provision that allows parents to keep their children on their plans until they turn 26 years old.
  • A requirement that health insurance companies spend 80 cents or more of premiums on healthcare or improvements to healthcare, or give the money back, resulted in $13.2 million in rebates to more than 184,000 in Michigan in 2013. The average refund was $118 per family. Since implementation in 2011, rebates to Michigan consumers have exceeded $45 million.
  • Most insurers can no longer deny coverage for a pre-existing condition, benefiting 4.4 million nonelderly in Michigan with some type of health condition.

With so many more in Michigan accessing preventive care, it means that good health is a goal within reach for those enrolling in the Healthy Michigan Plan.

The success of this program to date is indeed a reason to celebrate.

– Gilda Z. Jacobs

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…)

Exhausted but inspired

I recently returned from Health Action 2014, Families USA’s annual conference, in my usual condition – exhausted yet inspired! It was a good year for Michigan: Dizzy Warren, of Michigan Consumers for Healthcare, was awarded one of the three Advocate of the Year awards, and Michigan blogger Amy Lynn Smith won the painting created onsite by Regina Holliday!

The conference opened with a cancer survivor sharing her story of having her COBRA coverage end on Dec. 31, 2013 during her cancer treatment. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, she was able to sign up for coverage starting Jan. 1 and continue her treatments uninterrupted. (more…)

War on Poverty: Part 2

From the League’s First Tuesday newsletter
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Today marks the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s now-famous State of the Union address that launched the War on Poverty:

“Unfortunately, many Americans live on the outskirts of hope — some because of their poverty, and some because of their color, and all too many because of both. Our task is to help replace their despair with opportunity.

While some pundits will undoubtedly seize the anniversary as an opportunity to wrongly declare the War on Poverty a failure, we should instead recommit to LBJ’s vision, as there is plenty of evidence that it worked. And what an incredible return on investment! (more…)

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