Schmidt: Medicaid reform vital to N. Michigan residents, healthcare providers

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Lawmaker again votes Medicaid Reform

State Rep. Wayne Schmidt today voted again to support sweeping Medicaid reform legislation in the Michigan House of Representatives.

Schmidt, R-Traverse City, said his vote on the bill, which is designed to implement a more fiscally responsible alternative to the current Medicaid system, has not changed.

“The need is still there. We have worked hard in both the House and Senate to craft a program that emphasizes personal responsibility while saving taxpayer money,” Schmidt said. “This will benefit people in Northern Michigan, some of whom currently use expensive emergency room care as their primary source of health care which drives up the cost of healthcare for us all. At the same time, it will ease the financial stress many health care facilities experience in our area.”

The state Senate last week approved an amended House Bill 4714, which extends Medicaid to Michigan residents who are most in need of assistance. The Senate approved the plan, which promotes cost sharing, widespread use of health savings accounts and will ultimately reduce the financial burden on Michigan’s hard-working taxpayers.

The legislation requires the federal government to approve waivers that include a provision to increase co-pays based on income after 48 months on the program, as well as an opt-out clause if the federal government no longer funds 100 percent of the reforms.

In addition, the bill:

-Requires the Department of Community Health to pursue consequences for enrollees who consistently fail to meet their cost-sharing requirements, helping make enrollees more self-sufficient in their health care; and

-Allows individuals who leave the Medicaid program to take the remaining balance of their health savings account in the form of a voucher to purchase private insurance, ensuring individuals do not avoid an increase in income simply to stay on Medicaid.

“We are taking every step to ensure that taxpayers are protected and that our most vulnerable families have access to the health care they need,” Schmidt said. “This will be good for all Michigan residents and will greatly benefit healthcare providers serving rural areas in Northern Michigan.”