Lansing, Mich. – Associate Speaker of the House Pro Tem Rep. Gary Glenn, R-Midland, and Rep. Gary Howell, R-North Branch, Thursday introduced a bill to protect state taxpayers by prohibiting further enrollment in the state’s financially unsustainable Medicaid expansion program after September 30th, the end of the current fiscal year.
Rep. Gary Glenn, left, and Rep. Gary Howell discuss legislation to cap enrollment in Michigan's ObamaCare plan.
The expansion was approved by the Legislature in 2013 as part of the implementation of ObamaCare in Michigan, dramatically expanding eligibility requirements for Medicaid to include able-bodied, working adults. Previously, Medicaid dollars were primarily intended for individuals who could not support themselves -- children, the elderly, and the blind and other physically or mentally disabled adults.
Last year, enrollment under the expanded eligibility standards surpassed 600,000 individuals, a figure 32 percent higher than supporters of the plan projected when arguing for its enactment.
“Even at current levels, this explosion in ObamaCare enrollment by newly-eligible able-bodied adults will cost Michigan taxpayers $80 million this year, which will explode to $200 million a year starting just three years from now,” Rep. Glenn said. “It’s a budget-busting, financially irresponsible ticking time bomb that taxpayers can’t afford even at the current level of enrollment, much less if legislators stand by and allow enrollment to grow even further.”
Glenn and Howell said the legislation is particularly timely given that Congress voted Thursday to repeal ObamaCare and replace federal funding for the state Medicaid program with block grants that would not cover the program’s costs.
When the program began in 2014, the federal government agreed to pay for 100 percent of the additional cost of providing Medicaid benefits to able-bodied adults under the expanded criteria through 2016. But beginning in January, the state must pay for 5 percent of those increased costs, which will double to 10 percent by 2020.
Glenn’s and Howell’s bill would prohibit Michigan’s Health and Human Services department from accepting new enrollees under the expanded criteria into the medical welfare program as of October 1st. The department would be allowed to renew enrollment of current enrollees if they continue to meet eligibility requirements, even though the two GOP lawmakers said even that will likely become financially unsustainable in the state budget.
They said the legislation would also help redirect Medicaid dollars back to those the welfare program was originally intended to help, “disabled adults or children who are incapable of working to support and help themselves,” Glenn said.
“This is a measure of fiscal responsibility to the taxpayers of Michigan it’s our duty to represent,” Howell said. “I can’t imagine anything more fiscally irresponsible than allowing a welfare program for able-bodied adults -- that’s already financially unsustainable now -- to continue to grow even further.”