Michigan seeks Medicaid money, relief from rules

Michigan is poised to become the latest state to move forward with the massive Medicaid expansion that comes courtesy of Obamacare, joining 24 other states and the District of Columbia — but with strings attached.

Michigan’s decision leaves only five states that haven’t decided whether to adopt the Medicaid expansion, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation report.

The proposal only passed the Michigan legislature based on the assumption that the state would be allotted federal waivers from the Department of Health and Human Services to institute reforms to its Medicaid program.

Among those are small co-pays and a four-year cap on benefits under Healthy Michigan, the state’s Medicaid plan.

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a local free-market think tank, concluded relying on temporary waivers that are subject to bureaucratic discretion is not sustainable.

Mackinac’s senior legislative analyst Jack McHugh told The Daily Caller News Foundation that “once you enter the program, the legal presumption has to be that you can’t get out. And even if you get a waiver, it’s temporary — how can you plan for the future and make long term risks based on a bureaucratic provision that’s clearly temporary?”

Oklahoma, Indiana, Arizona, California, Florida and Connecticut have all been turned down by the federal government despite hopes to continue their own reforms for state Medicaid programs, according to Mackinac joint study with the Ohio-based Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions.

The Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services is reconsidering Indiana’s request for a waiver to continue its Healthy Indiana Plan, an alternative Medicaid program that covers 40,000 low-income Indianans.

One Michigan state senator saw the Medicaid expansion as a means of getting back Michigan taxpayer money spent on Obamacare. “The taxes in the Affordable Care Act are billions of dollars,” Republican Sen. Roger Kahn said. “And for us in Michigan, it will be $2 billion siphoned from our people, and we’re going to bring that back to the state.”

An influx of federal grants will pay the tab for the Medicaid expansions initially but the federal taxpayer share will decrease to 90 percent by 2020. A Heritage Foundation study found in March that Michigan taxpayers will be on the hook for $1.3 billion over the next decade for the Medicaid expansion. 

Michigan Republican Sen. John Moolenaar railed against the costs during Tuesday’s vote. “Today we have the opportunity to say no to more crushing federal debt that burdens our children and grandchildren.”

The final details must still be re-approved by the lower house of the Michigan legislature.

Indiana, New Hampshire, Tennessee, Ohio and Pennsylvania are now the only states left that have yet to decide whether they are going along with the Medicaid expansion.

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