Winning the Day
February 15, 2013
Q. With the submission of his budget, Governor Snyder is one of six Republican governors to propose expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act known as ObamaCare. This was an about-face for the governor. How and why did this happen?
A. Watching this scenario unfold from 10,000 feet, we would say one word: DATA.
The governor used research data, not emotion-riddled anecdotes, or opinions, to inform his decision-making. The governor and his staff did their homework using, among other factors, data from two policy briefs published recently by the Center for Healthcare Research & Transformation, www.chrt.org, at the University of Michigan.
Now it is up to the Legislature to deal with the same facts the governor heard from CHRT. First, expanding Medicaid will bring nearly $1 billion in savings to the state in the first 10 years while providing coverage and access to health care for approximately 400,000 previously uninsured citizens. Second, and equally important, primary care physicians in Michigan have capacity for new patients including those with Medicaid.
The Center for Healthcare Research & Transformation (CHRT), a client of this writer, is an expert resource for non-partisan information and data on the Affordable Care Act and its impact on Michigan. CHRT provided factual unbiased data that played an important role in the governor’s decision to move forward to expand Medicaid in Michigan. When Governor Snyder questioned whether there were primary care physicians willing to see an influx of new Medicaid patients or would these patients further burden emergency departments and drive up costs, CHRT posed the question of capacity in a statewide survey of primary care providers. Then CHRT looked at the facts.
So what is the lesson here for legislators and advocates alike?
Use unbiased data to help frame public policy. Let the facts speak. Explain what the data means in plain language. Example: Survey results show that 81 percent of Michigan primary care physicians have capacity, are willing to serve more patients, including those with Medicaid.
Avoid cherry picking data out of context to suit your purpose. It is likely you will soon be found out, lose credibility and defeat your cause.
Instead, rely on facts. In the case of Medicaid expansion, everyone stands to be a winner. Michigan can go from being a donor state to instead receiving federal dollars. Michigan’s hospitals will reduce their burden of uncompensated care. Newly insured citizens will be able to see a primary care physician for routine care versus using a costly emergency room.
Michigan has long wrestled with the issue of the uninsured and underinsured. Surely expanding access to care for 400,000-plus newly eligible Medicaid enrollees is the “right thing to do” but importantly it makes sense from an economic standpoint.
Our advice to the Michigan Legislature: Follow the data.