Shawn Wright| Crain’s Detroit Business

An increase in Michigan’s Medicaid recipients and the newly-implemented Affordable Care Act are among some of the factors that will contribute this year to Michigan’s continued health care employment growth.

“Hospitals and physicians will have a different picture, starting in April,” said Marianne Udow-Phillips, director of the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation, a non-profit partnership between the University of Michigan and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

“We expect hundreds of thousands of Michigan citizens to get coverage under Medicaid, which means people who have previously been uninsured will now be insured, reducing hospital bad debt.”

Michigan recently adopted a bill that authorizes the expansion of the state’s Medicaid program to nearly 2.5 million people, with at least 400,000 Michigan adults eligible on April 1. The move makes Medicaid a bigger payer in the mix of services provided by hospitals, Udow-Phillips said.

She believes state government will see an increase in jobs as it prepares to enroll the influx of recipients. In the field, she said, there will be an increased demand for nurses, technicians and other primary care positions.

Toward the end of last year, data from the Workforce Intelligence Network found strong demand for healthcare positions. There were 40,200 positions available for an overall category of nurses, physicians, radiologists and other healthcare occupations.

There were more than 11,000 job positions open, specifically, for registered nursing jobs and 2,500 for nursing assistants.

Bridging the gap between high demand for workers and finding qualified applicants is a challenge, said Kate Kohn-Parrot, president and CEO of the Greater Detroit Area Health Council.

Her organization is involved with Wayne State University’s Michigan Area Health Education Center. The program is about four years old and appeals to underprivileged or underrepresented area students to help them understand careers in the health care sector through education and training.

“It doesn’t have to be a doctor,” Kohn-Parrot said. “It could be a nurse, pharmacist or hospice worker.”

In addition, she also believes a lot of the new Medicaid recipients will fall into counties that currently don’t have enough doctors.

Both Kohn-Parrot and Udow-Phillips agree the ACA, also known as Obamacare, will open the door for entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. .

The ACA will help self-starters who think they have a better idea of how to lower health care costs and integrate care. Kohn-Parrot said she recently went to a luncheon in New York City where a group of venture capitalists and entrepreneurs, an estimated 250 attendees, were talking about how they could profit.

“The Affordable Care Act actually gives entrepreneurs huge opportunities to be creative in health care,” Udow-Phillips said. “I think it’s going to be changing and a little hard to predict.”

And while health care will continue to be one of the largest and fast growing sectors in the state, Udow-Phillips does think it will continue to match previous years.

“It’s not to say that there won’t be good employment,” she said. “I just don’t see it growing at the rate it has been.”

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