Nearly one in four Michiganders receives health insurance through Medicaid, including the Healthy Michigan Plan approved four years ago this month, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
While the state has customized that coverage in many ways under existing law, the federal agency that oversees the jointly funded program has signaled a willingness to approve even more changes in future. And since Medicaid funding comes from both the federal and state government, pressure from both to explore ways to maximize efficiencies within the program is also expected in the near future.
But what should that change look like, and what current challenges could it address? How can policymakers, state officials, policy researchers and stakeholders work together to move publicly funded healthcare forward?
On December 4 in the Capitol building in Lansing, IHPI teamed with the State of Michigan and the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) to bring key players together in a forum focused on these issues. Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon and IHPI director John Z. Ayanian, M.D., M.P.P., acted as co-hosts.
The event aimed to help policymakers and stakeholders gain a common understanding of the challenges facing the current Medicaid system, and discuss considerations for any reform effort.
The ideas that emerged will help BPC determine what ideas to bring to lawmakers in Washington, D.C. as they consider changes to Medicaid. The event was part of the BPC’s nationwide “Future of Health Care” initiative, which has included meetings around the country.
Key participants included two people who once ran the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services: Andy Slavitt, who served under President Barack Obama, and Gail Wilensky, who served under President George H.W. Bush. They joined members of the administration of Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, Michigan House and Senate leaders from both parties, and representatives from a wide range of groups representing health care providers, businesses and insurers. IHPI’s participation especially related to its independent evaluation of the Healthy Michigan Plan, represented by Ayanian and Susan Goold, M.D., M.H.S.A., M.A.
Among the questions the participants tackled were how to make Medicaid more efficient, effective, affordable for the state and accountable as it serves more than 2.4 million Michiganders.
Also discussed was the federal waiver program, which allows states to apply to CMS for permission to change their Medicaid programs in certain ways. The Healthy Michigan Plan, for instance, operates under waivers that allow the state to test an innovative approach for the program’s 655,000 participants, focusing on personal responsibility and engagement in healthy behaviors.
“Michigan has proven time and again to be a national leader in providing healthcare coverage to residents, helping to improve their health while reducing uncompensated care costs by more than 50 percent,” Lyon said. “It’s important for policymakers and stakeholders in Michigan and nationally to work together to build upon our successes and make further improvements to our healthcare system.”
“It was great to be in Lansing for such an engaging and productive bipartisan discussion with some of the state’s leading politicians, thought-leaders and stakeholders. We applaud the state’s commitment to continuing to improve its health care system and increase access to affordable coverage. The Bipartisan Policy Center believes it’s important to bring the best ideas from those outside the beltway back to Washington, D.C. to help inform our federal policy work,” said Gail Wilensky and Andy Slavitt in a joint statement.