July 14, 2014 at 6:53 pm

Michigan ordered to speed up its Medicaid enrollment

State officials say technology issues are to blame for a warning by the federal government that Michigan and five other states were facing a deadline Monday to create plans for getting those low-income residents enrolled in health coverage.

The federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services sent letters dated June 27 to Alaska, California, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri and Tennessee asking those states to address gaps in their eligibility and enrollment systems that have delayed access to coverage for poor and disabled people.

The letter was sent months after the first national sign-up drive under President Barack Obamas health reform law.

The letters stated that those states had 10 days to come up with a response plan, but health advocates say there is no clear deadline for clearing the backlog.

Angela Minicuci, a spokeswoman at the Michigan Department of Community Health, said the state is working with the federal government to address the issues. She said Michigan has enrolled 323,000 residents into the Healthy Michigan Plan, exceeding its 322,000 target for the year.

We will continue to work to ensure Michiganders have access to health care coverage needed to lead healthy, productive lives, Minicuci said.

The federal government will remain in close contact with states to monitor their progress to ensure that they are facilitating Medicaid enrollment for those individuals eligible, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services spokeswoman Marilyn Jackson said in a statement.

The states facing the federal deadline are a mix of those that opted to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act and those that did not. Obamas health reform law led to the signup of about 8 million people in private health care coverage through the insurance exchanges, while an additional 3 million people enrolled in Medicaid, the state-federal program for the poor and low-income.

The federal government initially picks up the full tab for the Medicaid expansion, which was accepted by about half the states.

The Medicaid expansion is projected to bring up to $2 billion in federal health care funding to the state. The flood of enrollments will have no initial financial effect on the state budget because the program is funded by the federal government through 2017. After that, Michigan will start paying a portion of the costs until reaching a maximum contribution of 10 percent in 2020.

Snyder was among a small group of Republican governors who broke with party lines to support expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. He waged a bitter battle with Michigan's Republican-controlled House and Senate to push the measure through last year.

Detroit News Staff Writer Karen Bouffard contributed.