The Future of Michigan’s Successful Bipartisan Medicaid Expansion Plan is Uncertain

With the Trump administration’s vow to “repeal and replace” Obamacare, it’s unclear what will carry over if action is taken. WDET is taking a look at one component of the Affordable Care Act that has been deemed a success in Michigan: the Medicaid expansion.

WDET/Laura Herberg

Nakeysha Douglas (right) has her blood sugar levels checked at a clinic run by Wayne State University Physician Group.

Nakeysha Douglas is one of 600,000 people covered by Healthy Michigan, the state’s Medicaid expansion plan. To hear her story and learn more about the impact of the plan, click on the audio player above or go here.

A Guide to Medicaid Expansion in Michigan

What is Medicaid?

Medicaid is a federal health care program that mandates participating states to cover qualified low-income families, pregnant women and children, and disabled persons. Beyond these required coverage populations, each state administers their Medicaid program differently, which means Medicaid coverage across the country varies by state. Medicaid was signed into law in 1965 alongside Medicare, the federal health insurance program primarily for people who are 65 or older.

What is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act?

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was enacted in March 2010 and is more commonly referred to as just the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or Obamacare. The ACA requires health insurance for all Americans and increases access to care through state-based marketplaces for individuals, new stipulations and exchanges for employers, allowing people 26-and-under to be covered by their parent’s insurance, expanding Medicaid coverage and making it illegal to deny coverage due to pre-existing health conditions.

What is Medicaid expansion?

The ACA includes a provision to extend Medicaid coverage to low-income adults making up to 133% of the federal poverty level (around $16,000 in 2017). After the ACA was legally challenged in 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that extending Medicaid coverage would not be required but optional for states.

How many states opted in?

Thirty-one states opted to expand Medicaid. Eleven of them had Republican governors at the time they chose to expand. Seventeen now have Republican governors. See a map that shows which states expanded here. Michigan was the 3rd state with a Republican governor and legislature that decided to expand Medicaid, following Arizona and North Dakota. 

The Michigan Counties Most Vulnerable if Obamacare is Repealed

The above map, created by Bridge Magazine, shows how many people in Michigan would be affected if the ACA is repealed. Click on the map to see how many people in each county are covered by Medicaid expansion and the ACA. For the full article in Bridge Magazine, including a map that’s broken down by Congressional district, go here.

What is Healthy Michigan?

Healthy Michigan is the name of Michigan’s Medicaid expansion plan. It was signed into law by Republican Governor Rick Snyder in September of 2013. 

Who is eligible for Healthy Michigan?

Individuals are eligible for the Healthy Michigan Plan if they:           

  • Are age 19-64 years
  • Have income at or below 133% of the federal poverty level
  • Do not qualify for or are not enrolled in Medicare
  • Do not qualify for or are not enrolled in other Medicaid programs
  • Are not pregnant at the time of application
  • Are residents of the State of Michigan

How many people have signed up for Healthy Michigan?
Over 600,00 people have signed up for Healthy Michigan.

What is the impact of Healthy Michigan?
Studies show it is saving money for hospitals and the state.

Image credit: WDET/Laura Herberg

This post is a part of Detroit Journalism Cooperative.

The DJC is a partnership of six media outlets focused on telling critical stories of Detroit and creating engagement opportunities on-air, online and in the community. View the partners work at

Support for this project comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Renaissance Journalism’s Michigan Reporting Initiative and the Ford Foundation.



About the Author

Laura Herberg

Community Reporter

Through sound-rich storytelling, Herberg covers stories about the people inhabiting the metro Detroit region and the issues that affect them. Michigan Associated Press Best Reporter 2018 and 2017.

Follow @HerbergRadio

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