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SJMHS Supports Michigan Governor’s Medicaid Expansion Push

Gov. Rick Snyder visited St. Mary Mercy Livonia on July 1, 2013 to rally the medical community in support ofMedicaid expansion to hundreds of thousands of low-income adults.  It was part of his statewide lobbying effort since the Senate left for summer recess without voting on the legislation.

“Today we have a broken system of several thousand Michiganders who rely on the emergency room as their medical facility,” Snyder told a packed room of about 150 associates and medical staff at the forum.  “We love the people working there – they are angels – but it’s not a place for ordinary care.”

Every U.S. state including Michigan has the option of accepting federal funding to includemore adults who make too much to qualify under current income thresholds, but too little to afford basic insurance.  The expansion would cover single adults making $14,483 or families of four making $29,725, as well as subsidies to help more people purchase insurance through insurance exchange.

“Disease and illness can devastate a family who don’t have the means to afford insurance,” said Cathy Reinke, patient financial counselor at St. Mary Mercy Livonia. “The cancer spreads, the diabetes becomes unmanageable, and the hernia worsens while they wait and worry about the cost to see a doctor. It doesn’t have to be that way.”

States control the decision whether or not to expand Medicaid, and while the Michigan House passed the bill, the Republican-controlled Senate put off the vote until after its summer recess.

“Politics are overwhelming common sense and that’s why I’ve been taking this message to hospitals across the state; it’s that important,” Snyder said.

Dave Spivey, president and CEO of St. Mary Mercy Livonia, said hospitals endorse expansion as the right thing to do.

“Medicaid reform presents a unique opportunity to do three things:  Expand access to as many as 450,000 uninsured residents, slow the increase of health premiums paid by employers, and steward our state resources and tax dollars,” Spivey said. “St. Mary Mercy Livonia, Saint Joseph Mercy Health System and CHE Trinity Health all support Medicaid reform.”

The Livonia forum was emceed by State Rep. John Walsh and included SMML President and CEO Dave Spivey, small-business owner Tim Belanger, cancer survivor Janet Sucoe, and SMML patient financial assistance counselor Cathy Reinke.  It was covered by media outlets including Fox 2 Detroit, Associated Press, WWJ-AM and Observer Newspapers.

The Livonia event was the latest of a series of efforts by Saint Joseph Mercy Health System to passMedicaid expansion.  When it appeared the bill would succumb to partisan politics, the efforts of SJMHS leaders and hundreds of associates helped turn the tide with public engagements at community forums, town halls and the Mackinac Policy Conference.  The Michigan House passed House Bill 4714 by a 76-31 vote. 

Leading up to the Senate vote following the summer recess, Gov. Snyder is conducting forums across the state encouraging residents to take action on three fronts:

  • Contact state senators.  Take one minute with the CHE Trinity Health e-advocacy tool to contact your Senators directly with a pre-populated electronic letter urging a "yes" vote on this critical legislation.
  • Sign the petition for a healthier Michigan. Go to and sign an online petition. 
  • Invite five friends, family members and/or others to join the support.  Share the petition link on Facebook, Twitter and other social media.

CHE Trinity Health and Saint Joseph Mercy Health System support the governor’s Healthy Michigan Plan to improve and strengthen Medicaid so more working people can get the care they need.