Gov. Snyder signs Healthy Michigan Bill into law at Oakwood Hospital

Governor Rick Snyder signed the Healthy Michigan plan into law last week, bringing health care to nearly 500,000 Michiganders, which he said will not only help residents of the state but the economy, as well.

“A healthier Michigan is an important part of our state’s continued comeback,” Snyder said. “Today, we’re reaching out to nearly a half-million Michiganders with a message that help is there for them and their families to lead healthier, more productive lives. And this innovative approach will make our recovering economy stronger by saving money for taxpayers and job providers.”

Snyder signed the landmark bill, HB 4714, into law on Monday at the Oakwood Hospital and Medical Center in Dearborn, surrounded by people whose lives have been affected by illnesses, as well as small business owners and health care professionals from Oakwood Healthcare.

Brian Connolly, president and CEO of Oakwood Healthcare, welcomed the legislation and lauded the Lansing leaders that worked together to get it approved.
“This year marks our 60th year of service to the community. As we look forward beyond our Golden Jubilee year, we know that 26,000 men and women who came to us last year without insurance will now have the option to come back with more confidence, more self-esteem to get the care they need in physician offices—not in the emergency room,” said Connolly. “Let us not forget that it took courage, it took tenacity and, as the governor likes to say, it took relentless positive action to make this happen.”

In the first year, Healthy Michigan is anticipated to cover 320,000 Michigan residents and eventually provide care for 470,000—most of whom are working but earning about $15,000 annually.

The plan emphasizes personal responsibility. Those covered by the plan will be required to share in the costs. There will also be incentives for them to take responsibility for their lifestyle choices and to maintain or improve their health.

Previously, those without health insurance often waited until their medical conditions were severe, and then sought treatment in an emergency room. Not only did they suffer with their illnesses, but that’s also the most expensive way for them to get medical care.

Michigan’s hospitals bear more than $880 million in uncompensated costs every year, which are passed along to individuals and businesses through higher health care premiums. Healthy Michigan will help alleviate hundreds of millions of those costs annually. Oakwood contributed about $150 million to the community in 2011 through outreach programs health improvement services and uncompensated care.

“We hope that with federally funded healthcare assistance, they will come to us sooner – and for primary and preventive care so that they can live full and robust lives enjoying the great state of Michigan and all its splendor,” said Connolly.

“Extending insurance coverage to those most in need is a monumental achievement for our state that will benefit more working adults who currently lack health coverage, as well as Michigan taxpayers and employers,” said Kim Sibilsky, CEO of the Michigan Primary Care Association. “The association applauds Gov. Snyder and the leadership of both houses for ensuring more Michigan residents have increased access to health care. Michigan Health Centers look forward to working with our partners to connect Michiganders with affordable health coverage options and to serve as their health care homes.”

“Health care is an issue that prompts strong opinions, and debate over this plan was thoughtful, and, at times, intense,” Snyder said. “But in the end, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle came together on an improved plan that is built upon our shared Michigan values and hopes for a stronger state, both physically and financially.”

Congressman John Dingell, considered by many to be the godfather of the federal Affordable Care Act, said it was a great day and thanked the governor for his leadership on the bill as well as the bi-partisan effort that eventually got it approved.

“I consider access to health care a right, not a privilege,” he said. “We can rejoice in this day. We have a healthier future for our citizens and this is just another example of how the Affordable Care Act continues to benefit our wonderful state.