There is something good that can finally be done after the decision of state lawmakers to approve state Medicaid expansion this week, even if both sides decided not to make the change immediate to help meet the Jan. 1 requirement set forth in the Affordable Care Act.
The decision to not make it in effect for the start of 2014 is truly a strange one, considering it could cost the state a reported $7 million per day over 90 days until the expansion takes effect in Michigan -- estimated to be late March or early April. Even more curious considering the current government portrayed itself as incredibly fiscally responsible, proposing to increase taxes for roads yet willing to ignore hundreds of millions on expanded health care funds.
The politics must stop. The education aspect must now begin.
October will arrive quickly, meaning the start of registration for expanded insurance coverage for those who did not qualify or could not afford it before now.
Three months is a tight window with much to learn and the divide over health care needs to be set aside, no matter political party, point-of-view or economic scale.
It doesn't matter that Michigan was the 25th state to get in line on the Affordable Care Act -- and one of the few with Republican leadership -- the focus needs to shift.
People need to know what options are available to them, the exact costs in relation to their income, what limitations are involved in coverage, the importance of regular visits to a family physician, and -- most importantly -- how do they sign up.
There's no politics involved in that, the only economics are costs per person.
The saber rattling, political threats and tough talk had its day, in fact it has had more than four years since this federal proposal was first shared. The dialogue has certainly not waned since it was narrowly approved at the federal level in 2009.
Our country's history is littered with laws and proposals that were unpopular, even less so than the Affordable Care Act, so it's time for people to get over it. This is not a "hand-out," especially with GOP leaders in the state fashioning certain details to this week's legislation that best characterize it as "hand up" -- including co-pays and income-based premiums that could be reduced through healthy lifestyle choices or increased if an individual stays on Medicaid for more than four years.
This could help cover nearly half a million Michigan residents, sharply decrease expensive emergency room visits for treatable conditions and reduce state spending.
The worst possibilities? Nobody knows for certain, and anybody who thinks they know must have a fully-functioning crystal ball.
If a terrible scenario arises, Michigan -- like approximately 20 other states already have -- can opt out.
So spare the blaming, tough words and politics at its worst. The Affordable Care Act has not been called a perfect law or Medicaid expansion considered the best government-based idea ever proposed for health care coverage.
It's the law now in the U.S. and our state. This is a time to become educated on health care and what changes are coming.