Michigan: State GOP continues to blow off Flint's poisoned children/ pregnant women

After a year and a half of allowing the residents of Flint, Michigan to be poisoned, GOP Governor Rick Snyder, in response to growing public pressure, finally decided to do something decent for once:

Gov. Rick Snyder said Tuesday he will seek permission from the Obama administration to allow all young people in Flint the chance to receive publicly funded health care services for lead exposure amid the city's contaminated drinking water crisis.

...The White House and federal Department of Health and Human Services did not have an immediate response Tuesday to Snyder's initiative targeting Flint residents up to age 21 through the expansion of Medicaid.

Even then, he wasn't exactly in a big hurry to do so; he waited another 3 weeks to get around to actually submitting his request:

On January 16, 2016, President Obama declared an emergency in the State of Michigan and ordered federal aid to supplement state and local response efforts due to the emergency conditions in the area affected by contaminated water. On February 16, 2016, Michigan submitted a request to extend coverage to two optional coverage groups in Medicaid through the section 1115 demonstration: pregnant women and children through age 20, up to and including 400 percent of the federal poverty level, who are currently served by the Flint water system or were served by the Flint water system between April 2014 and the date on which the Flint water system is deemed safe by the appropriate authorities. Individuals receive care through Medicaid managed care plans, receive all state plan benefits and lead abatement in the home. The state requests a five year demonstration be authorized.

Two weeks later, the HHS Dept. wrapped up whatever the actual procedural paperwork/legal hoops they had to go through to approve the request...

FLINT, Mich. – Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has approved the State of Michigan’s 1115 demonstration to extend Medicaid coverage and services to Flint residents impacted by the lead exposure. In recognition of the public health crisis in Flint, it is a top priority for the Administration and for the Department to ensure that all children and pregnant women exposed to lead in their water in Flint have access to the services they need. Approximately 15,000 additional children and pregnant women will be eligible for Medicaid coverage and 30,000 current Medicaid beneficiaries in the area will be eligible for expanded services under this new waiver agreement.

“Expanding Medicaid coverage to tens of thousands of expectant mothers and youth means the most vulnerable citizens served by the Flint water supply can now be connected to a wide range of needed health and developmental services, including lead-blood level monitoring and behavioral health services,” said HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell.

...so you'd think that with all the T's crossed and I's dotted, the 15,000 children and pregnant women who have been poisoned by lead in their water over the past 2 years would finally receive some sort of medical care, right?

Yeah...not so fast. According to Chad Livengood of the Detroit News:

Two months ago this week, the federal government approved Gov. Rick Snyder’s request to extend Medicaid health insurance to another 14,000 Flint children and 1,000 pregnant women who may have been exposed to toxic lead through the city’s tainted drinking water.

But the health care coverage has yet to be activated because it requires approval of the state Legislature, where the wounds of a divisive 2013 Medicaid expansion battle still linger.

Snyder’s request to give health insurance to thousands of additional Flint residents got wrapped into a $144 million supplemental funding bill for the city. That bill was put on a slower track with the overall $55 billion state budget, which lawmakers plan to pass by June.

“The speed is frustrating. We’re losing that sense of urgency at the state and federal level,” said Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, the Hurley Medical Center pediatrician who last year discovered high levels of lead in the blood of Flint children.

JUNE. The GOP-controlled Michigan legislature "plan" to pass it by June. I presume that's June 2016, but who the hell knows?

That's another month or two (at least) that these children will have no medical assistance for things like:

Lead poisoning can cause damage to the brain, nervous system and kidneys and can result in anemia, slower growth and behavioral problems in children.

But apparently there were more pressing issues for the state GOP leadership, like...spring break!! PARRRTTYYYYY!!! WOO-HOO!!!

State Rep. Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor, said the Medicaid expansion should have been approved by lawmakers in March — before they adjourned for a two-week spring break.

“There’s no reason why we couldn’t have done those emergency appropriations on an emergency basis,” said Irwin, of the House Appropriations Committee. “But instead, we’re forcing them to ride with the rest of the budget, which just delays the help the people of Flint need. I’m frustrated by that.”

Federal officials this winter approved expanded Medicaid for Flint residents in less than three weeks.

So, why are they dragging their heels? Why, #ThanksObama, of course!!

Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, D-Flint, attributes the two-month delay in expanding the program for his constituents to the 2013 expansion of Medicaid to 615,000 low-income adults.

The contentious battle between Snyder and fellow Republicans entailed accepting billions of dollars in new federal aid through President Barack Obama’s health care law.

Ah, of course. Can't possibly provide healthcare to the people poisoned by your party's actions if there's even the slightest hint that it might be connected to Obamacare...even if it actually has nothing to do with it.