DEARBORN — Gov. Rick Snyder today signed the Healthy Michigan plan into law, bringing health care to nearly a half-million Michiganders, strengthening the state’s residents — and also its economy.
“A healthier Michigan is an important part of our state’s continued comeback,” Snyder said. “Today, we’re reaching out to nearly a half-million Michiganders with a message that help is there for them and their families to lead healthier, more productive lives. And this innovative approach will make our recovering economy stronger, too, saving money for taxpayers and job providers.”
Snyder signed the landmark bill, HB 4714, into law today at Oakwood Hospital and Medical Center in Dearborn, surrounded by people whose lives have been affected by illnesses, as well as small business owners and health care professionals.
In the first year, Healthy Michigan is anticipated to cover 320,000 Michiganders, eventually providing care for 470,000 — most working but earning about $15,000 a year.
The plan emphasizes personal responsibility. Those covered by the plan will be required to share in the costs. There also will be incentives for them to take responsibility for their lifestyle choices and to maintain or improve their health.
Previously, those without health insurance often waited until their medical conditions were severe, and then sought treatment in an emergency room. Not only did they suffer with their illnesses, but that’s also the most expensive way for them to get medical care.
Michigan’s hospitals bear more than $880 million in uncompensated costs every year, which are passed along to individuals and businesses through higher health care premiums. Healthy Michigan will help alleviate hundreds of millions of those costs annually.
“Extending insurance coverage to those most in need is a monumental achievement for our state that will benefit more working adults who currently lack health coverage, as well as Michigan taxpayers and employers,” said Kim Sibilsky, CEO of the Michigan Primary Care Association.
“The association applauds Gov. Snyder and the leadership of both houses for ensuring more Michigan residents have increased access to health care. Michigan Health Centers look forward to working with our partners to connect Michiganders with affordable health coverage options and to serve as their health care homes.”
Healthy Michigan helps people like Marcia Perkins. The Grand Rapids-area breast cancer survivor was self-employed for more than 30 years, earning enough to pay her bills. But she could not afford health insurance.
“We need this Medicaid program to help folks like me, who work hard,” she told Gov. Snyder at a recent event. “We want to take care of ourselves and do well. But we did need this help.”
The new plan will help small job providers like Cynthia Kay add new employees and care for the ones she has already. As the owner of a small video production company and member of the Small Business Association of Michigan, she provides health insurance to her eight employees, and premium increases made it difficult to grow her business.
“I had to think twice about adding more people,” Kay said, adding that Healthy Michigan could help control costs and allow her and other small business owners to create more jobs.
James K. Haveman, director of the Michigan Department of Community Health, called the plan “a significant step forward for 477,000 Michigan lives in a very Michigan-specific way.”
“Today marks the culmination of many months of thoughtful discussion and innovative planning by a broad array of stakeholders across the state of Michigan,” he said. “Our work at the Department of Community Health is just beginning and we are eager to get this program started in our continual effort to improve the overall health and wellness of our state.”