Michigan Governor Supports Extending Medicaid Coverage To Nearly Half A Million Low-Income Residents

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R)

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) is set to announce his support for Obamacare’s optional expansion of the Medicaid program at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon. The announcement, which comes a day before the governor will address his budget priorities for the upcoming legislative session, will make Snyder the sixth Republican leader to agree to the health law’s Medicaid expansion.

Implementing this aspect of President Obama’s health reform law will be particularly impactful in Michigan, where an estimated 470,000 uninsured residents will gain health coverage. The health policy groups that provided Snyder’s office with research about expanding Medicaid — including the fact that the state could save up to $1 billion over the next decade by accepting the federal funding to increase their Medicaid rolls — are welcoming the governor’s decision:

Snyder’s support for Medicaid expansion “really is a big deal,” said Marianne Udow-Phillips, director of the Ann Arbor-based Center for Healthcare Research & Transformation, which provided research to the governor’s office. CHRT concluded Michigan would save more than $1 billion in the next ten years as the federal government picks up the cost for health care for those who currently are not covered by insurance.

Moreover, most primary care doctors reported to CHRT that they are able to accept new patients who now would have insurance, she said.

What’s really powerful about this is that the governor did come at this from a very objective, analytical approach,” she said. “He looked at the facts, he pulled research from our center and … lots of people,” Udow-Phillips said. “I don’t want to say we’re surprised, but we’re very pleased that the facts did speak for themselves.”

The state’s Medicaid expansion will still have to be approved by Michigan’s legislature, where conservative opponents of Obamacare could present a roadblock. State-level resistance to health care reform has considerably slowed the implementation of the Affordable Care Act — but, as Snyder joins the growing list of Republican leaders who are conceding that implementing Obamacare makes sense for their constituents, the tide may be about to turn.