Today, Congressman John D. Dingell (D-MI12) called on Senate Republican leadership to immediately approve Medicaid expansion for the state to avoid delays that will hurt 500,000 uninsured Michiganders and cost Michigan taxpayers an estimated $7 million a day. Last month, Republican senators left Lansing for a summer-long vacation without taking a vote, claiming they wanted to study the issue further.
"This Medicaid expansion must be approved and implemented without delay," said Dingell. "It's clear that the State Senate Republicans are playing political games that endanger the health and livelihood of half-a-million uninsured people, including children, people with disabilities and working folks who can't afford health insurance. These delays are unacceptable and will be harmful if they continue. By needlessly dragging their feet to appease political fringe elements, I'm concerned that the Senate's inaction will not give the Michigan Department of Community Health the necessary time to fully implement the law in a timely manner and risk the health of hundreds of thousands of Michigan families and millions of Michigan taxpayers' dollars."
The delays, caused by Senate Republican inaction, run the risk of jeopardizing the state's ability to meet the implementation target date of Jan. 1, 2014. DCH Director Jim Haveman told the Senate Government Operations Committee at hearings in July that missing the Jan. 1, 2014 implementation date could cause Michigan to lose $7 million a day in federal funds.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will also need time to approve waivers for additional reforms that Republicans have submitted. The average review time for waiver approval has been about 120-180 days, meaning the state's targeted enrollment deadline of October 1 may be at risk.
"We cannot afford to allow the wellbeing of the people of Michigan to fall victim to partisan gamesmanship and disregard," added Dingell. "With the Senate back in session this week, the time is now to pass legislation to expand Medicaid, and give state and federal agencies the time necessary to implement these policies that will help provide healthcare to half-a-million uninsured Michiganders across our state."