The Fight for Lower Cost, Higher Quality Health Care Options Continues

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By Sen. Patrick Colbeck
7th Senate District

One of my favorite songs is “Pick Yourself Up” as sung by the late great Ella Fitzgerald.  Reflecting upon the priorities represented in the FY17 State Budget provided me with ample reason to hum this tune this summer.  Important initiatives regarding citizen priorities like Health Care, Roads, and Public Safety were pushed to bottom of the list in deference to special interest priorities like another year of taxpayer-subsidized traffic control for the Michigan International Speedway.

Let’s take a closer look at the blown opportunity for meaningful health care reform in particular.  During the FY17 budget deliberations, one of the most promising health care reform opportunities in decades for our citizens was dismissed during last minute conference committee negotiations.  What was this reform?  The Direct Primary Care Services (DPCS) Medicaid Pilot.  It is unclear who made the final decision to scrap a requirement to implement the pilot in the final Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) budget, but the ramifications of the decision are clear.  Michigan Medicaid recipients were denied an opportunity to receive higher quality care while Michigan taxpayers once again drew the short straw and were denied an opportunity to reduce our annual state budget by $3.5 Billion.

So…what’s next?  Well, technically, the legislature retained language that gives DHHS the “option” of implementing the pilot, but, frankly, they have always had that option.  They simply don’t appear to have the will to do so, thus the attempt at requiring them to do so in the budget.  So, where can we look now?  As it turns out, there is a group of people that are generally interested in obtaining lower cost, higher quality health care – private sector employers.

Health care premiums are forecast to increase yet again by over 17% in Michigan.  While our state government invariably responds to higher costs with calls for tax increases, the private sector typically responds by finding ways to cut costs without impacting services to their customers.  That is why, in the wake of a disappointing state budget process, my efforts are once again focused on making sure that the private sector is aware of the health care options available to them in the wake of my passage of PA 522 of 2014 regarding Direct Primary Care Services.  These options are likely to go beyond stemming the rate of increase to actually reducing the cost of health care by as much as 20%.

In support of this renewed focus, I and those who share my passion for promoting lower cost, higher quality health care options for our citizens will be conducting a series of Health Care Forums across the state of Michigan.  The goal of these forums will be to connect DPC Doctors, insurance experts, and employers together in a way that will actually reduce their health care costs while actually improving the quality of care for their employees.  If you are interested in attending or hosting one of these forums, please contact my office at (517)373-7350 or senpcolbeck@senate.michigan.gov.

It is estimated that Michigan businesses spend $31 Billion per year on health care.  If we can successfully expand the availability of free market health care options based upon Direct Primary Care Services, we can free up almost $6 Billion for capital investments, hiring new employees, increasing the pay for existing employees, or expand sales of Michigan-based products and services via lower prices.  In short, Michigan would be the center of a free market revolution in health care that would have me and many of my fellow Michigan citizens humming a much different tune.

Sen. Patrick Colbeck represents the 7th Senate District, which encompasses the cities of Livonia, Northville, Plymouth and Wayne, as well as the townships of Canton, Northville and Plymouth.