Michigan Hospital Association CEO on fighting for health equity as PHE comes to an end

Ahead of nearly 400,000 Michigan residents who may lose Medicaid coverage after the public health emergency declaration expires in May, Brian Peter, CEO of the Michigan Health and Hospital Association, is keeping health equity top of mind, he said in a recent interview with the State of Reform

Nearly 20 percent of the state's population lives in rural areas where access to healthcare resources are already limited by location or other factors like transportation. Populations in these areas tend to also be affected by housing and food insecurity, which "contribute to poor health outcomes," Mr. Peter said.

Since the beginning of the public health emergency, Michigan has seen a 22.5 percent increase in Medicaid caseload and a 59 percent increase in its Healthy Michigan Plan cases.

Mr. Peter noted to the State of Reform that health equity continues to be a challenge statewide and nationwide and said he understands some populations are "not receiving the same sort of access and care," as others. These populations tend to be lower income, more vulnerable and are more likely to be affected by changes to systems like Medicaid. He said the end of the public health emergency and what it may mean for some members of these populations is something he and members of the Michigan Health and Hospital Association have been preparing for. The state has several alternative options for coverage, and the association plans to have hospitals that frequently see high numbers of Medicaid patients educate them on what their options going forward may look like. 

"The end goal is to make sure that every Michigander has some form of coverage," he told the State of Reform. "It's critically important because we know that folks who have good insurance coverage are more likely to see primary care providers, more likely to come and deal with healthcare problems at an earlier stage, before that worsens, and their status is severely compromised. Certainly, that is helpful for the viability of hospitals and other healthcare providers as well."

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