Due to job losses this spring, over 222,000 Michiganders lost their health care coverage during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A recent report from Families USA, a Washington, D.C.-based, nonpartisan consumer advocacy group, states that Michigan, the 10th most populous state, has the sixth highest number of newly uninsured adults.
The states with more newly uninsured adults than Michigan are California, Texas, Florida, New York and North Carolina, all of which have more residents than Michigan.
Nationwide, because of job losses between February and May of this year, 5.4 million laid-off workers became uninsured, which is 39% higher than the previous highest increase that took place during the recession of 2008 and 2009.
Michigan saw a 46% increase in the number of uninsured adults compared to the same periods in 2018. This is the 4th highest percent increase in the country.
Michiganders are losing their jobs and health care coverage all while COVID-19 case numbers rise again. As of Tuesday, 70,306 people in Michigan have tested positive for the disease and 6,081 people have died.
During a roundtable on Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Twp.), Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist and former Acting Administrator of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Andy Slavitt talked about how access to health care is crucial during a pandemic.
“Nearly a quarter of a million people [in Michigan] have lost health care coverage as a result of losing their jobs and of the dislocation that we are seeing in our economy as a result of this crisis,” Peters said. “At the same time that folks are losing health care and people are afraid should they contract the disease and be infected and go into the hospital and have immense bills when they come out, we have a Trump administration that is actively trying to dismantle and end the Affordable Care Act (ACA).”
Peters is running for reelection this year against GOP businessman John James, who does not support the ACA.
In June, President Donald Trump asked the U.S. Supreme Court to put an end to the ACA, known as “Obamacare.”
Slavitt said that depending on how the Supreme Court rules in Trump’s latest attempt to overturn the health care law, health issues that stemmed from the COVID-19 outbreak may not be covered by insurance companies.
“if you believe we have nine impartial justices who don’t pay attention to public opinion, they won’t even say that themselves,” Slavitt said. “They need to understand what happens to all the people on Medicaid, all the people who will get sick with COVID-19 and then the next time they have asthma or a lung problem or a blood clot, the insurance company says that’s a preexisting condition.”
Last month, a report from the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank, found that if the ACA is overturned, it’s likely that about 23.3 million Americans — including 827,000 Michigan residents — will be without health care coverage.
Gilchrist noted that while the federal government withheld personal protective equipment during the early months of the outbreak, state leaders in Michigan had to “get creative” in offering and expanding health care options in Michigan.
“We innovated drive-through testing, we innovated mobile testing … but we also went a step further by leveraging the expanded Medicaid that we’ve had in Michigan under Healthy Michigan,” said Gilchrist, who lost 23 people in his life to COVID-19. “We are now connecting people who are seeing doctors for the first time in a long time to primary care physicians, behavioral health services and mental health services, while they are in the process of getting the results of their COVID-19 tests.”