Gov. Rick Snyder today expressed indignation with the state Senate's decision to adjourn for the summer without voting on health care legislation that is vital to Michigan's families and future.
At stake is the Healthy Michigan plan, an initiative that will reduce skyrocketing hospital costs resulting from uncompensated health care. Under the plan, nearly a half-million working but uninsured Michiganders would receive coverage. The bill was approved by the House last week.
"Ensuring access to affordable, quality health care is one of the most significant challenges facing Michigan," Snyder said. "The Healthy Michigan plan will help achieve that. Members of the state House already have acted on this and I appreciate their diligence. Unfortunately, the Senate did not even bring this critical legislation up for a floor vote before leaving for the summer. That's unacceptable. Our senators need to take a vote, not a vacation.
"Leaving this undone will negatively impact our people, health care providers and businesses as they deal with the challenges associated with the Affordable Care Act."
Snyder pointed out that voting on issues that are essential to Michigan is a basic function of the Legislature, much like its responsibility to approve balanced budgets.
"I appreciate the fact that lawmakers have addressed other significant issues this year," Snyder said. "But the job isn't done. I encourage all Michiganders to ask their senators why they left Lansing for the summer without finishing their work. That's what I'm going to do."
In addition to lowering costs, the Healthy Michigan plan prudently includes incentives to encourage healthy lifestyles that will reduce the need for emergency care.
"We see people every day walking into Federally Qualified Health Centers suffering from conditions like diabetes, heart disease and asthma that could have been treated before they became severe," said Kim Sibilsky, CEO of the Michigan Primary Care Association. "Had these people had insurance and not delayed care, we could have improved their quality of life and saved money."
Treating those without insurance places an $820 million burden for uncompensated care each year on Michigan's hospital industry.
"Individuals with insurance and businesses pay higher premiums to cover the cost of uncompensated care. Reducing the amount of uncompensated care will help control medical costs and improve our state's economy and business climate," Snyder said.
Healthy Michigan has the support of many health and business organizations, including the Michigan Health and Hospital Association, the Michigan Chamber of Commerce and the Small Business Association of Michigan.
"This lack of action is a missed opportunity to make a significant difference in the cost of health insurance for Michigan's small businesses and job providers and potentially puts us a competitive disadvantage," said Rob Fowler, president and CEO of the Small Business Association of Michigan.
The state is projected to save $206 million in the 2014 fiscal year by providing Healthy Michigan plan benefits to those now receiving services paid for with general fund dollars.
"The people of Michigan expect and deserve leadership on critical issues facing our state," Snyder said. "My legislative partners and I have been entrusted with that responsibility, and it is one we can never take for granted. This issue has had a thorough and lengthy debate in Lansing. Michigan families deserve better."