Michigan Health Centers Name Senator Moolenaar, Representative Lori Champions for the Medically Underserved

By Dana Lawrence, MPCA Director of Communications & Grassroots Advocacy

On behalf of Michigan’s 35 Health Center organizations, Michigan Primary Care Association (MPCA) named Senator John Moolenaar (R-Midland) and Representative Matt Lori (R-Constantine) as Champions for the Medically Underserved during the MPCA Legislative Forum held in Lansing on February 27, 2013.

This annual award recognizes state legislators for their work to promote and protect affordable, quality health care for the medically underserved populations in Michigan. Michigan’s Health Centers are health care homes for over 600,000 Michigan residents, many of whom would go without care were it not for their local Health Center. Over 32 percent of Michigan Health Center patients are uninsured, nearly 53 percent rely on public health insurance, and 68 percent have income below the federal poverty level.

“MPCA and Michigan Health Centers applaud Senator Moolenaar and Representative Lori for their leadership as chairs of the Health Appropriations Subcommittee in their respective chamber, during the fiscal year 2013 state budget process. They were instrumental in protecting the integrity of Michigan’s Medicaid program and ensuring there is adequate funding for the State Loan Repayment Program and Graduate Medical Education – two programs critical to a strong health care workforce in underserved areas of the state,” said Kim Sibilsky, Executive Director, MPCA.

In fiscal year 2013, Governor Rick Snyder and the Michigan Legislature endorsed Michigan Medicaid as a good investment. Together they developed a budget that included no major reductions to the Medicaid program, recognizing that any funding, payment mechanism, or benefit changes will likely result in greater long-term expenditures and hinder the most vulnerable populations from accessing essential health care services.

The fiscal year 2013 state budget also included funding to reinstate the State Loan Repayment Program and it maintained funding for Graduate Medical Education.

“Moving forward, it is necessary that Michigan continue to preserve and strengthen its Medicaid program, and MPCA urges the state legislature to appropriate funding in the fiscal year 2014 budget for expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act,” said Sibilsky. “It is also paramount that adequate funding be maintained for the programs that improve the quantity and geographic distribution of primary care providers in underserved areas across the state.”

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