No Immediate Effect Vote Means Uninsured Caught in Medicaid Gap

By: Josh Sidorowicz Email
By: Josh Sidorowicz Email

The Medicaid expansion bill is headed to Gov. Rick Snyder's desk as he's expected to sign it into law once he returns from his trade trip to Asia.

But no matter when he actually puts pen to paper it won't be taking effect until next spring.

The State Senate decided not to take a second vote to give the bill "immediate effect" which means Medicaid won't expand until 90 days after the legislative sessions ends sometime in December.

Despite the setback, Gov. Snyder Tuesday still celebrated the bill moving forward.

"This is a bright day in Michigan, I'm very excited to be here and looking forward to moving forward," he said.

But for the nearly 500,000 more Michiganders now covered under the state's expanded Medicaid program there's a catch.

Jan. 1 marks the first day all Americans will be required to have healthcare coverage, which means eligible Michiganders will now have to consider a few options to avoid possible penalties, according to Angela Minicucci, with the Michigan Dept. of Community Health.

"There are the subsidies that are available," she said. "They can get health insurance through the exchange that way and then they could get on the 'Healthy Michigan' plan when that becomes enacted."

Minicucci said there will be insurance plans offered in through the exchange in the meantime, and individuals can either sign up and keep the coverage or simply use it until Medicaid expansion goes into effect.

Rep. Andy Schor said it's a situation that's been made more complicated than it should be for individuals.

"They're going to in essence have to register twice for two different things," he said. "It's going to cause a lot of confusion."

But if individuals opt out of purchasing health insurance in the interim they could face penalties which start off at $95 per adult and can add up to about $285 per family.

Minicucci said the penalties increase each year through 2016. The link below provides a breakdown of how the penalties increase each year.

When asked Tuesday if he'd be looking into possible options to waive any penalties for affected individuals Gov. Snyder responded "it's an item to discuss to see what options are and how to handle the situation."

For now though, the penalties will be in place starting Jan. 1, however enrollment for the exchange will be open until the end of March, Minicucci said.

Penalties will end up getting rolled into taxes for the year which means individuals would pay them later on.

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