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State and health care officials call on federal government to preserve Medicaid expansion

Inside the doctor's office.
Jennifer Morrow

State officials and health care providers called on Washington lawmakers to keep the state’s Medicaid expansion Monday.

From doctors to the state budget director, the message is clear. Let the state keep its Healthy Michigan Medicaid expansion. In order to do that, the federal government needs to keep paying for it.

But right now lawmakers in Washington are churning out plans that don’t seem to coincide with this goal.

Nick Lyon is the Director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. He said there are improvements that can be made to health care coverage. But their main concern is keeping the Healthy Michigan expansion.

“Not only is it valuable to us from a budgetary perspective, it lower the cost long term,” he said. “But also, it gets people the help and care they need before it turns into an urgent situation where they’re in ER.”

Lyon said the Medicaid expansion also helps the economy by keeping people healthy and working.

State officials aren’t the only ones calling on Washington to find a place in the new health care legislation. Dr. Farhan Bhatti is the medical director of Care Free Medical. It provides various medical treatments to people with limited access to health care and relies on the expansion. 

“What Care Free looks like, hinges on what happens at the federal level,” Bhatti said.

State Budget Director Al Pscholka said a part of the problem is people don’t actually understand how Medicaid works.

“I think there’s a lot of misinformation out there,” he said. “Once you actually study the policy and understand how it works, it makes a lot of sense to get people healthy.”

Healthy Michigan has enrolled almost 680,000 people. Over half of them voluntarily enrolled.

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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