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Expanded Medicaid eligibility in Flint lead crisis



The Flint River, corrosive water from which went through lead pipes to poison thousands of people.

In response to the lead-in-water crisis in Flint, Mich.,  the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) gave formal approval to Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s proposal to expand Medicaid eligibility and coverage for low- and moderate-income children and pregnant women affected by Flint’s lead crisis.

Thus, the Commonwealth Fund reports, “Medicaid will be extended to an additional 15,000 lead-exposed children and pregnant women served by the Flint water system. Once eligibility is established, children will remain eligible until they reach age 21. This expanded eligibility standard effectively doubles the state’s normal Medicaid eligibility rules for Flint’s pregnant women and children, raising it from twice to four times the federal poverty level. (Families with incomes above this level can purchase Medicaid coverage.)

“Both existing and newly eligible beneficiaries will be entitled to receive all Medicaid benefits, including comprehensive pregnancy care, and early and periodic screening, diagnosis, and treatment (EPSDT) services to promote healthy child development.”

Why Michigan’s Medicaid expansion is a big success

The expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act in Michigan has so far been a very big success — and a politically bipartisan one signed into law by GOP Gov. Rick Snyder. Here’s why, as explained in a HealthAffairs piece.

Consider, among the signs of success:

“Operational issues with enrollment have been minimal and health plan participation has been high, with thirteen health plans serving the Healthy Michigan Plan {the name of the state Medicaid program} population in the first year. Moreover, the proportion of primary care practices willing to accept new Medicaid patients in Michigan has increased from 49 percent to 55 percent since the launch of the Healthy Michigan Plan — with median wait times for new appointments remaining less than two weeks.’

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