Healthcare coverage on the upswing

There is some good news out today in terms of health insurance.

The share of uninsured people in Michigan fell from 11.4% in 2012 to 11% in 2012, according to today’s Census Bureau release, with major additional improvements expected ahead due to the Affordable Care Act.

Still, more than 1 million in Michigan were without health insurance in 2013, according to the Census Bureau. That number is expected to decline dramatically as the Healthy Michigan Plan (Michigan’s Medicaid expansion), Marketplace enrollment and other provisions in the Affordable Care Act get counted in the numbers that will be released next fall.

One big driver of that will be the unexpectedly high number signing up for the Healthy Michigan Plan. In last than six months, starting April 1, nearly 386,000 uninsured adults were enrolled, well beyond the state’s year-long goal. In addition, nearly 273,000 have enrolled for health coverage through the federally facilitated Marketplace. And let’s not forget the popular Affordable Care Act provision that allowed parents to cover their adult children until age 26.

Two new studies are documenting the positive impacts already.

The Urban Institute’s Health Reform Monitoring Survey finds that states such as Michigan that have expanded Medicaid are making far greater progress in covering parents of children in low-income families than states that have not expanded Medicaid.

New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released today also indicates a 3.8 million drop across the country in the number without health coverage in 2014, a period not yet covered in today’s census release.

Last year, Gov. Snyder and the Michigan Legislature voted to expand Medicaid, one of 27 states that have now taken that step.

As the League President & CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs said in a news release today: “This is good not only for the people getting the coverage they need, it’s also good for our state’s businesses, communities, and economy.’’

– Judy Putnam

League supports Michigan’s move to cleaner energy

The Michigan League for Public Policy has recently added clean energy as a focus area in our policy and advocacy work.

Clean energy is an important issue for the organization, as well as our state, as Michigan looks to implement Environmental Protection Agency’s policy to reduce carbon emissions nationwide. While the state has been on the way to supplying some of its electricity with renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and bioenergy with a goal to meet 10% by 2015, we need to do more.

Michigan currently has nine coal-fired electricity generating units, with health-related costs associated with emissions from these facilities totaling $1.5 billion annually. These health issues range from asthma to cancer, and heart and lung disease.

According to a 2011 study by the Michigan Environmental Council, 180 premature deaths, 680,000 cases of asthma irritations and 140 asthma emergency room visits are attributed to pollution from burning coal in Michigan every year.

People of color and those who are economically vulnerable are most likely to suffer these health complications. This is because the coal-fired power plants tend to be in neighborhoods of low- to moderate-income people, affecting those populations disproportionately.

By transitioning from coal to clean energy, we can reduce pollution and improve the health of Michiganians across the state.

On June 2, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed a common sense plan to cut carbon pollution from power plants. EPA’s proposal builds on those actions that states such as Michigan are already taking, and will maintain an affordable, reliable energy system, while cutting pollution and protecting our health and environment now and for future generations. Michigan can meet the expectations put forth in this proposal, while improving the health of its citizens by increasing our use of clean, renewable energy, such as wind and solar, as well as reducing energy waste through increased energy efficiency.

Please support clean energy by commenting in favor of this proposal. You have until Oct. 16, to do so through the EPA site. See the League’s fact sheet for more information.

– Shannon Nobles

Back to school: Are children ready to learn?

For children to succeed in school, they must go to school “ready to learn” –  rested, fed and healthy. But how many children will start the school year with a toothache or other dental problem?

According to the Department of Community Health’s 2011 -2012 Count Your Smiles survey, the number is likely pretty high. (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 www.michigan.gov/mibridges, 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…)

Healthy Michigan Plan moves forward

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. (more…)

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