AFP Michigan Cautions Legislators On HB 4714

I had posted something on this a couple days ago.

HB 4714 is being presented as a ‘protection” against Obamacare, but..

LANSING, Mich.—“Please do not be fooled:” that was the message Americans for Prosperity-Michigan today delivered to House and Senate lawmakers in a letter urging opposition to HB 4714, which would expand Medicaid under President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). The group identified HB 4714 as a possible bait-and-switch, and noted that conservative reforms proposed in the bill can too easily be stripped away now or at some point in the future, leaving Michigan taxpayers holding the bag. (Click here to read the full letter).

“Yes, HB 4714 contains some attractive window-dressing, but the view for taxpayers has not changed,” wrote Hagerstrom. “The reforms to Medicaid proposed in HB 4714 may be well intentioned, but please do not be fooled. This legislation still represents a huge and costly expansion of a failed government health insurance system over which the State of Michigan has very little control.”

HB 4714 makes Medicaid expansion contingent on a variety of conservative reforms, including a 48-month cap on benefits and increased cost sharing. Some policymakers may be counting on the fact that Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will be unwilling to grant Michigan its waiver request. For example, HHS rejected California’s waiver request to charge copays ranging from $3 for preferred drug prescriptions to $5 for doctor visits, and also rejected Illinois waiver request to implement a fraud prevention program that would include address and income verification.

However, Hagerstrom identified this as a dangerous strategy since there will be chances aplenty for the reforms contained in the bill to be watered down now or in the future. He cited a few specific opportunities, including amendments on the House and Senate floor, Conference Committee changes, legislation passed by future policymakers, or changes made by the Obama Administration.

“The unlikelihood that meaningful Medicaid reform would be allowed by the Obama Administration raises questions as to the true intent of this legislation,” Hagerstrom wrote. “Lawmakers who believe they can ‘poison the well’ for Medicaid expansion by supporting this bill may too late discover that HB 4714 is a bait-and-switch.”

Hagerstrom suggested a resolution calling upon HHS to give Michigan a block grant for existing Medicaid dollars expended as an better way for state legislators to demonstrate their commitment to Medicaid reform.

“I urge you to be wary of this understandable, but ultimately misguided, attempt to make the best out of a bad program,” said Scott Hagerstrom, state director of Americans for Prosperity-Michigan. “Please see HB 4714 for what it is—a possible bait-and-switch aimed at garnering your support for President Obama’s Medicaid expansion.”

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