LANSING — State Rep. Bill Sowerby (D-Clinton Township) introduced House Bill 5674 to remove uncertainty concerning the longevity of the Healthy Michigan program, which insures about 650,000 Michigan residents who would otherwise likely go without health care. Access to health care is necessary so that Michiganders have the freedom to build the life they want for themselves and their family. This legislation is important because it removes language that would end Healthy Michigan when net state costs for the program exceed state savings.

“We need to let Michigan citizens know that we will protect their access to health care, and that they do not have to worry about whether they and their children can keep going to the doctor when they are sick or when they need preventive care,” said Sowerby. “Affordable health care helps people stay productive at their workplace so they don’t have to work while sick and spread illness to other workers or the public. Healthy Michigan is good for our citizens and good for our economy, and we should amend the current law in order to preserve and protect this essential program.”

The Healthy Michigan plan expanded Medicaid to more Michiganders with the federal government picking up most of the cost of the expansion. In 2018, the federal government will pay 94 percent of the expansion costs and beneficiaries pay co-pays to their doctor’s office and pharmacies. A recent Citizens Research Council report found that the program has kept insurance premiums lower, reduced uncompensated care, and created thousands of new jobs. Regular doctor visits also keep people healthier so that they don’t miss work — and a paycheck — because of illness. However, attempts at the federal level to dismantle the Affordable Care Act threaten federal support for Healthy Michigan and could flip the switch written into the state legislation authorizing it and effectively end the program.

“Healthy Michigan has the support of Gov. Rick Snyder and passed with Republican legislative support. We shouldn’t let actions at the federal level destroy a program that we all believe is right for Michigan citizens,” said Sowerby. “Families depend on this program, and to allow it to end would mean that many Michigan families would again be left wondering how they are going to afford a doctor or pay medical bills when someone gets sick. We simply cannot let that happen.”