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Deciding Michigan Medicaid's future


Michigan has to decide whether to expand its Medicaid rolls by up to a half-million people starting in 2014.  The U.S. Supreme Court's landmark decision on the Affordable Care Act struck down a portion of the law that would have required states to expand the program or risk losing all federal aid.

Michigan hospitals support Medicaid expansion.  They spend billions of dollars each year providing charity care for adults without health insurance.

Laura Appell is with the Michigan Health and Hospital Association.  She says even though Medicaid doesn't always cover the total cost of providing hospital care, it's still helpful for patients and hospitals.  "The burden of serious illness or sudden illness for any family is usually impossible to bear alone," she said.

Marianne Udow-Phillips with the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation (CHRT) in Ann Arbor agrees.  She says the Affordable Care Act takes important steps in the right direction to both expand insurance coverage and improve quality of medical care,  "It's not a perfect law, but it's a foundation that we can build from and that's really important," she said. 

But Udow-Phillips says if Medicaid is not expanded, then many of Michigan's poorest adults, more than a quarter million, may not have an affordable private insurance alternative. 

A spokeswoman for Governor Rick Snyder says he's not yet made a decision about whether he'll push for a Medicaid expansion. 

- Nishant Sekaran, Michigan Radio Newsroom