UPDATE: Michigan: Risk Snyder begs feds to clean up his mess in Flint

Boy, all that fuss and arguing over the best path towards universal healthcare seems awfully silly this morning.

The Detroit Free Press, Tuesday evening:

Snyder to seek aid for Flint children exposed to lead

Michigan governor seeks to expand Medicaid to help at-risk young people exposed to lead in Flint during water crisis

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.

Specifically, the initiative, which is expected to be sent to the Obama administration in the next week, seeks expanding Medicaid eligibility to those affected regardless of income level. The request would also include the expansion of Medicaid coverage for people already enrolled in other forms of insurance.

The idea, state officials said, is to spread comprehensive benefits to children who may have come into contact with lead in the water regardless of their ability to pay. Generally, lead affects children more than it does adults. Children tend to show signs of severe lead toxicity at lower levels than adults, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control.

Huge hat tip to Deborah Roseman:

Good; they need care, now & ongoing. Yet, key to universal coverage for kids is... Poisoning by gov't malfeasance? https://t.co/YwPSFEqzZ5

— Deborah Roseman (@roseperson) January 27, 2016

Well, there you have it, folks: It took a Republican Governor to figure out the path towards single payer healthcare!

Now we just need to poison all 320 million Americans for life and we'll be all set.

OK, this is snark, of course, but the truth is that there's nothing funny about it. Yes, the children of Flint, Michigan are going to require medical care for years, if not their entire lives depending on how bad the effects of lead and other toxins in their system turn out to be, and Medicaid would appear to be the most obvious program to utilize.

At the same time, I also propose that Rick Snyder himself be the one to pay for Medicaid for all 30,000 young Flint residents. Assuming around $2,000 per year per kid, that's $60 million per year. Snyder's net worth is supposedly around $200 million, so let's have him foot the bill for at least the next 3 years.

It’s not like he’ll need any cash while he’s in jail, after all.

UPDATE: Amazingly, some folks seem to be under the impression that I'm seriously praising Snyder here and/or suggesting that this is the way to achieve Single Payer in a GOP-controlled state. Sad.

UPDATE: Wait a second...I just realized that this is actually even less "bold" of Snyder than it looks like.

42% of Flint's entire population is under 100% of the Federal Poverty Line, and the median household income is only around $25,000 per year. The average per-capita income is only around $14,400/year.

The ACA's Medicaid expansion provision already covers everyone in Michigan up to 138% FPL (assuming they actually enroll, of course). That's around $16,200 for individuals, $22,000 for couples and $27,700 for a family of three. Given the income data for Flint above, I think it's safe to say that at least 60% of the city's population already qualifies for Medicaid regardless of age as it is, thanks to the ACA.

So what about the remaining 40% (roughly 40,000 people)? Around 27% of the city's population are children under 18, or perhaps 11,000 of those 40K.

Well, in Michigan, pregnant women and newborns are covered up to 195% FPL; children up to 18 are covered by Medicaid up to 160% and by CHIP up to 212% FPL. I'd be willing to bet that these groups make up a good quarter of that total, or around 3,000 more.

In other words, it seems to me that Snyder is really only asking for federal Medicaid expansion to cover perhaps 8,000 more people than are already eligible for Medicaid as it stands. As far as I can figure, the other 22K or so residents under 21 are already eligible for Medicaid, along with around 40,000 adults.

Now, there's also the matter of funding...the state pays for about 31% of "standard" Medicaid costs, and will be paying around 5-10% of ACA expansion Medicaid starting next year...but the fact remains that Rick Snyder's announcement is even less consequential than it already appeared to be.