LANSING—Speaking on behalf of the state’s most vulnerable population, the Michigan Catholic Conference today is congratulating Senate lawmakers for reaching an agreement that will allow for direct funding to the state’s Medicaid program. The negotiation guarantees in part that 100 percent of the funds raised from a cigarette tax increase will be dedicated solely to Michigan’s Medicaid Benefits Trust Fund for the current and 2004–05 fiscal years.
“The Michigan Catholic Conference expresses its deep appreciation to legislators for coming to terms on a bipartisan deal that is a piece in the puzzle toward ensuring proper health care for the state’s poor and needy citizens,” said MCC Vice-President for Public Policy Paul A. Long. “Quality health care for the most vulnerable is a fundamental right that must be collectively supported by the public and private sectors for the dignity of the individual and society as a whole.”
Due to the state’s current and upcoming fiscal year budget deficits it was deemed necessary to raise Michigan’s cigarette tax by 75-cents to ensure that payments to Medicaid providers were not reduced. Negotiations stalled as legislators debated where revenue raised from the increase should be distributed. The compromise reached today pleases those in both parties as the revenue increase will directly benefit Medicaid as well as the state’s general fund.
Details of the agreement include dedicating 100 percent of the revenue from the cigarette tax increase toward Medicaid deficits for the current and 2004–05 fiscal years, then amending the equation for fiscal year 2005–06 and beyond to 75 percent of the increase toward Medicaid and 25 percent to the general fund.
“Today in the spirit of elevating the common good of our society, bipartisan resolutions have rescued the poor and needy of Michigan from immediate budget cuts that would have forced a diminished quality of life,” said Long.
Michigan Catholic Conference is the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in this state.