Medicaid / Doctor / healthcare

A doctor explaining test results to a couple. 

(The Center Square) – Throughout the federal COVID-19 emergency, Michigan’s Medicaid and similar programs nationwide have been barred from removing those who initially qualified for the expanded services.

In December 2022, President Joe Biden signed a $1.7 trillion omnibus bill that, in part, requires the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to reinstate checking income levels of more than 3 million Michiganders on state health insurance programs for those with low incomes.  

About 775,000 additional Michigan residents have collected Medicaid benefits since early 2020. According to the nonpartisan House Fiscal Agency, the additional 775,000 cases cost taxpayers about $150 million each quarter or $600 million annually.

In February 2020, about 2.5 million Michiganders were on Medicaid. As of February 2022, that number had jumped to 3.1 million. At the same time, the federal government prohibited closing Medicaid cases during the federal public health emergency declaration.

Under the new bill, states can start terminating recipients’ coverage April 1 if they aren’t eligible. The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services say the process must be completed within a year.

Bob Wheaton, a spokesman for the state Health Department, said that more than 3 million Michiganders per month have kept their Medicaid coverage, including more than 1 million Healthy Michigan Plan enrollees – without eligibility redeterminations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We will not know how many individuals will be eligible until the redetermination process begins, but the work we’re doing is to maximize coverage wherever possible,” Wheaton said in a statement. “We have received some initial guidance from the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, but are waiting for more so we can provide further assistance with these efforts.”

Wheaton said the agency is working on a timeline for income redetermination for Medicaid programs.

The Healthy Michigan Plan program was created in 2013 under the Affordable Care Act of 2010. The federal government covers 90% of the program cost, eligible for people ages 19-64 who have income at or below 133% of the federal poverty level, or a roughly $18,000 income for one person.

Medical and Behavioral Health Services represent 32% of the $76.8 billion state budget for fiscal year 2022-23.

Of the $24.3 billion Medical Services and Behavioral Health budget, 68% supports the traditional Medicaid program, while another 24% supports the Healthy Michigan Plan.

Since fiscal year 2002-03, the state’s total Medicaid caseload has increased by 123%, expenditures have increased by 221%, and general fund/general purpose expenditures has increased by 99%, due to the Healthy Michigan Plan expansion and the COVID-19 pandemic.

A Kaiser Family Foundation analysis comparing Michigan Medicaid/Children’s Health Insurance Program enrollment in February 2020 and September 2022 shows a 28.2% increase.

Staff Reporter

Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.