picture of dentist working in mouth
Wikimedia Commons

Michigan would authorize and license midlevel "dental therapists" to do work now performed by dentists under a bill advancing in the Legislature.

The legislation won Senate approval 21-15 Wednesday. The House will consider it next.

Under the bill, dental therapists could practice if they reach an agreement with a supervising dentist. They could perform more common procedures than dental hygienists, such as filling cavities.

Supporters say the legislation would help ensure treatment for more patients in underserved populations, including in rural areas.

Words "Medicaid" on paper surrounded by stethoscope photo
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A study conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan concluded this week that residents enrolled in the state's expanded Medicaid program saw improvements to both their health and job performance. In addition, Medicaid had positive effects on both the employed and out of work who were enrolled in the Healthy Michigan plan.

According to a recently published medical study, expanding Medicaid coverage is associated with better outcomes for heart surgery patients in the state of Michigan. The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. 

“The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of Medicaid expansion, on improving both access to health care and on (surgery) outcomes." Dr. Eric Charles of the University of Virginia said. Charles is a surgery resident at the University of Virginia, as well as one of the study's lead researchers.

Top officials in Gov. Rick Snyder's administration say it could cost Michigan up to $800 million a year to keep the state's Medicaid expansion program at current enrollment levels if cuts approved by the U.S. House are enacted. State Department of Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon gave the estimate Monday during an event in which Snyder aides and advocates defended the expanded Medicaid program. 

Changes in Medicaid distributions worry school districts

May 15, 2017

School districts are worried about how proposed changes in Medicaid distributions will affect their funding. Administrators say any reduction in the estimated $4 billion schools receive in annual Medicaid reimbursements would be hard to absorb. Such cutbacks would come after years of reduced state funding and a weakened tax base.

Governor Rick Snyder took his veto pen to a plan adopted by the Legislature to change how the state raises money for the Medicaid program.

He was concerned the federal government would reject it. That would have put many millions of dollars in federal money for Medicaid at risk.

Business groups, in particular, have been frustrated with the current tax on health insurance claims. They say it drives up the cost of employee health coverage. /

The Michigan Legislature's approval of a change in how health insurers are taxed to help fund Medicaid sets up a showdown with Gov. Rick Snyder.

The Republican-led Senate voted overwhelmingly Thursday to continue a tax on Medicaid managed care organizations, shift funding around and more quickly end a tax on health insurance claims.

It's the latest in Michigan's long-running attempts to not run afoul of the federal government, which has indicated the Medicaid managed care tax should expire.

The legislation is headed to Snyder.

calculator and financial paperwork
Dave Dugdale via Wikimedia | CC BY 2.0 /

Governor Rick Snyder’s administration and Republicans in the Legislature are at odds over how to pay for the Medicaid program.

The state currently uses a small tax on health insurance claims to get federal matching money to fund health care services.

The state tried other approaches, and, after a few misfires, that satisfied a requirement that the mechanism to get federal money must be “broad-based.”

But the claims tax is opposed by many Republicans and business leaders, who say it drives up the cost of health coverage.

Michigan is getting $17.2 million after drugmaker Pfizer Inc. agreed to resolve allegations that one of its companies failed to give Medicaid the same discounts it provided to private purchasers of a heartburn treatment.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette on Wednesday detailed the state's portion of the settlement that totals nearly $785 million.

The tentative deal that resolves allegations filed by two whistleblowers was first announced in February, but final approval was announced Wednesday by the U.S. attorney's office in Boston.

Doctor with stethoscope photo
Alex Proimos via Wikimedia | CC BY 2.0

Michigan's tax on health insurance will continue under legislation signed by Gov. Rick Snyder.

The bill enacted Tuesday extends the health insurance claims assessment, which helps pay for Medicaid for low-income residents, until July 2020.

The tax would have gone away in two years if the legislation were not adopted.

The 0.75 percent tax is expected to rise to 1 percent in 2017 when the federal government no longer allows another tax to fund Medicaid.

Critics such as the Michigan Chamber of Commerce call the bill a tax increase.