News Story

Obamacare in Michigan: 32 Percent More Than Projected Take Medicaid Expansion

State’s free ride about to end on free coverage for able-bodied adults

Higher-than-projected enrollments following Michigan’s adoption of the Obamacare Medicaid expansion could cost state taxpayers as much as $380 million a year if current trends continue over the next five years.

A new study by the Foundation for Government Accountability reports that 630,609 have enrolled for the expansion here as of October 2016 — 32 percent higher than originally projected in 2013. When Gov. Rick Snyder was urging legislative Republicans to adopt this optional component of the federal health care law the administration projected enrollment of 477,000.

According the Michigan House Fiscal Agency, Michigan’s share of the Medicaid expansion costs are projected to be $130 million in the current fiscal year, and increasing to $380 million annually in 2021. Until this fiscal year, the feds had picked up the full cost except for some administrative expenses.

The study, titled “Expansion Enrollment is Shattering Projections,” says that Michigan’s Medicaid enrollment spike is part of a national trend. Of the 24 states (including Michigan) that expanded their Medicaid programs, the data shows that 11.5 million able-bodied adults have enrolled under relaxed standards for eligibility, 110 percent more than the 5.5 million projection.

Gov. Snyder dubbed the expansion the “Healthy Michigan Plan,” and signed it into law in September 2013.

Nic Horton, an author of the study and a senior research fellow at the Florida-based FGA, attributed the enrollment numbers to able-bodied adults enrolling and taking advantage of welfare.

Speaking of Michigan, Horton said, "Obviously the state's projections were way off. In the first year, they enrolled more able-bodied adults than the state said would ever even be eligible. But the bigger story here is that they're trapping more and more adults in welfare and diverting more resources away from the truly vulnerable.”

“When you offer something to people for free, they're going to take it,” he continued. “This is a program where the state, along with the federal government, has told able-bodied Michiganders that all they have to do is stay unemployed, quit their job, or reduce their hours in order to get 'free' health care,” Horton explained. “If they were working before, perhaps just to keep insurance through their employer, now they can quit and enroll in Obamacare expansion.”

“It's saddling taxpayers with even more of a burden than promised and it's taking even more resources away from truly needy Michiganders,” Horton said. “Thankfully, Congress is set to repeal the law entirely."

Republican President-elect Donald Trump promised during his campaign to dismantle Obamacare, something the Republican-majority U.S. Congress is on board with.

The Washington, D.C.-based Juniper Research Group argues that more than half a million people with disabilities are “still on waiting lists to receive services, because Obamacare encourages states to expand Medicaid coverage to able-bodied adults.”

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.