Mich. Senate prepares to vote on Medicaid expansion

Updated: Thursday, August 22, 2013
Mich. Senate prepares to vote on Medicaid expansion story image
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Five days from now--next Tuesday--the Michigan Senate will vote on expanding Medicaid to offer health insurance to some 470,000 state residents--most of them from working families who hover just above the poverty line.

Tonight, in Tom's Corner, Tom Van Howe says anything but a 'yes' vote means the people we've elected to office are more concerned with petty politics than the health and welfare of the people they represent.

=====================

There are lots of people who don't like Obamacare. I get it. Its confusing. Its got thousands of pages that few will ever read or fully understand. It focuses on how we're going to pay instead of why everything costs so much. And as a result many of us worry about where all the money is going to come from.

But there are nearly a half-million well-intentioned people in our state who don't have health care. Usually because their employers don't offer it, and always because they can't afford it on their own.

As a result, when they get sick they wind up going to absurdly expensive hospital emergency rooms for medical care. Think about it. A single bill from a single visit to an ER is likely to be more than a month's rent.

They are bills that are most likely not going to be paid.

Why not?

Because in this country we offer the most expensive health care in the world and those individuals and families simply can't afford to pay them.  If they aren't part of an insurance plan, in a classic of upside-down logic, they usually get charged even more.

And it isn't as though all these costs just magically disappear. In one way or another, they do get paid.

But they get paid by businesses, taxpayers, and people who do have health care. The same people who see their premiums rise by double digits each and every year.

Hospitals, who provide just short of a billion dollars worth of indigent health care a year,  absorb some of it, but do their best also to pass it on to paying customers.

And did I mention that roughly 65 percent of all bankruptcies in this country are healthcare related?

So along comes the federal government to say to states, 'Tell you what...if you expand your Medicaid coverage to include those who live just above the poverty line (the ones we're talking about here) we'll pick up the cost—all of it—for the next four years. After that we'll pick up 90 percent of it.

Sounds like a no-brainer.

But here's the rub. It's part of the Affordable Care Act—the dreaded Obamacare. And in a number of states where there are Republican-dominated governments, Michigan among them, to accept medicaid expansion is to somehow endorse and give victory to President Obama himself.

A political position that does little for the 15,000 in kalamazoo county who pray they don't get sick.

It's a position that has outraged Governor Snyder—who to his credit has been out campaigning for it.

He says, matter-of-factly, whether you like Obamacare or not, it is the law of the land, and that with each day that goes by, Michigan is losing money.

His colleague,  New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who faced the same problem, is one of the few Republican Governors in the country who successfully lobbied for extended medicare.

"Let me be clear," he said. "I am no fan of the Affordable Care Act. I think it is wrong for New Jersey and for America.
 
I fought against it and believe in the long run  it will not achieve what it promises. However—it is the law of the land.
 
I will make all my judgments as Governor based on what is best for New Jersey."

Gov. Snyder is essentially making the same argument. And its time for the Senate to put away its petty ideological differences, listen to what he's saying,  and get on board.

Five more days.

In this corner...I'm Tom Van Howe.

Business News

Last Update on May 29, 2015 17:19 GMT

ECONOMY-GDP

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. economy went into reverse in the first three months of this year as a severe winter and a widening trade deficit took a harsher toll than initially estimated.

The Commerce Department says the overall economy as measured by the gross domestic product contracted at an annual rate of 0.7 percent in the January-March period.

The revised figure, even weaker than the government's initial estimate of a 0.2 percent growth rate, reflects a bigger trade gap and slower consumer spending.

It marked the first decline since a 2.1 percent contraction in the first three months of 2014, a slump that was also blamed on winter weather.

Economists expect a rebound in the current quarter to growth of around 2 percent and expect the economy to strengthen later this year.

CONSUMER SENTIMENT

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A weak U.S. economy pulled down consumer sentiment in May.

The University of Michigan says its index of consumer sentiment fell to 90.7 from 95.9 in April. The May reading was the lowest since November.

Consumers of all ages and income levels were gloomier this month. And they were less confident both about current economic conditions and the future.

Still, Richard Curtin, chief economist of the surveys, noted that the index has averaged 94.6 the first five months of 2015, highest since 2004.

The Commerce Department reported Friday that the U.S. economy fell at a 0.7 percent annual pace the first three months of the year, hurt by severe winter weather and a widening trade deficit.

UNITED STATES-CUBA

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. has taken Cuba off its list of state sponsors of terrorism.

Secretary of State John Kerry has signed an order removing Cuba from the U.S. terrorism blacklist as part of the process of normalizing relations between the Cold War foes.

Kerry acted 45 days after the Obama administration informed Congress of its intent to do so. Lawmakers had that much time to weigh in and try to block the move, but did not do so.

The step comes as officials from the countries continue to hash out details of restoring full diplomatic relations, including opening embassies in Washington and Havana and returning ambassadors to the two countries. Friday's removal of Cuba from the terrorism list had been a key Cuban demand.

GERMANY-G7-FINANCE

DRESDEN, Germany (AP) -- Finance ministers from the Group of Seven wealthy democracies heard a sharp call from U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew to find agreement on more financial help for Greece.

Lew said that a further delay in Europe's six-month old talks with Greece was "courting an accident" -- such as a Greek default or messy exit from the euro, which could have unpredictable effects on the global and European economies.

Lew said Friday at the end of meetings in Dresden, Germany: "Too much time has been spent unproductively." The ministers at the meeting officially discussed more long-term projects such as making sure multinational companies pay all their taxes, but Greece overshadowed the talks.

Lew said "the challenge is to treat this week as a week in which there has to be progress."

BRITAIN-EU

BERLIN (AP) -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel has sounded a conciliatory note on Britain's efforts to renegotiate its relationship with the European Union, saying "when there is a desire there should be a way."

British Prime Minister David Cameron is making a whirlwind tour around Europe to press his case for concessions on the terms of Britain's membership in the EU. He met with Merkel in Berlin on Friday after a morning meeting with Polish Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz.

Merkel said after the talks that it would be in Germany's interest to see some changes and that her country would negotiate in a "supportive and constructive way."

Germany has a "clear cut hope" that Britain will remain a member of the EU, Merkel added.

ALZHEIMER'S DRUG-SWITCH

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- A federal appeals court in New York has ruled that drug manufacturer Actavis PLC's attempted switch of patented Alzheimer's medication violates U.S. antitrust law.

The decision released this week explains last week's ruling by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that requires the Dublin-based company to keep distributing Namenda until 30 days after its patent expires on July 11.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (SHNEYE'-dur-muhn) sought that court order. He alleged that antitrust and state law violations by Actavis pushed patients to its new patented drug Namenda XR to avoid losses from cheaper generics.

The court says the "hard switch" by Actavis "crosses the line from persuasion to coercion."

Actavis says its new drug, taken once daily instead of twice, is better and demand is growing. The company declined to comment further about the court's ruling.

VOLKSWAGEN-UNION

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) -- The head of a rival group to the United Auto Workers at the Volkswagen plant in Tennessee says his group doesn't share close links to another outfit that worked against a union election at the factory last year.

The American Council of Employees was formed after the UAW narrowly lost that vote. A group called Southern Momentum organized opposition to unionization at the Chattanooga plant.

The newer group, ACE, now has an attorney who served as a leader of Southern Momentum. But ACE's president, Sean Moss, says it's wrong to assume there's wide overlap between ACE and Southern Momentum.

Moss says that many of the workers who supported Southern Momentum opposed any sort of organized labor, while ACE backs Volkswagen's desire to create a German-style works council at the plant.

BREWERY CANS WATER

CARTERSVILLE, Ga. (AP) -- An Anheuser Busch plant in northwest Georgia has started canning water instead of beer to help flood victims in Texas and Oklahoma.

Multiple media outlets report the Cartersville plant halted its beer production to produce 50,000 cans of water to distribute to the flooded areas by this weekend.

Cartersville brewery manager Rob Haas told NBC News the brewery has participated in similar initiatives in the past, including during the Northeast's recovery from Superstorm Sandy.

The brewery even has a special white can that it uses for the water.

advertisement
Washington Times
advertisement