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 October 02, 2015 17:45 GMT


WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. hiring slowed sharply last month and previous job gains were revised lower amid a broad slowdown in the global economy.

The Labor Department says employers added just 142,000 jobs in September as manufacturers and oil drillers shed workers. Hiring in July and August was revised lower by 59,000.

The unemployment rate remained 5.1 percent, but only because more Americans stopped looking for work. The proportion of Americans working or searching for jobs fell to a new 38-year low.

Average hourly wages also slipped by a penny and have risen a tepid 2.2 percent in the past year.

U.S. consumers are spending at a healthy pace, boosting job gains in sectors like retail and hotels and restaurants. But lackluster growth overseas has sharply reduced exports of factory goods.


WASHINGTON (AP) -- Orders to U.S. factories fell in August by the largest amount in eight months, led by a drop in demand for commercial airplanes and weakness in a key category that tracks business investment spending.

The Commerce Department says factory orders declined 1.7 percent in August after a slight gain of 0.2 percent in July. It was the biggest setback since orders dropped 3.7 percent in December.

Demand in a key category that serves as a proxy for business investment slipped 0.8 percent in August, following solid gains of 1.9 percent in July and 1.5 percent in June.

Manufacturing has been under stress this year as a strong dollar has hurt export sales. The big fall in energy prices has also resulted in cutbacks in investment by energy companies.


NEW YORK (AP) -- Wal-Mart has laid off 450 workers at its headquarters as the world's largest retailer attempts to become more nimble to compete with the likes of Amazon.com.

There are about 18,000 people who work at the headquarters Bentonville, Arkansas. The cuts were across all areas, from finance to global e-commerce. The company says that the employees were spoken to individually early on Friday.

The cuts follow months of rumors about job headquarters cuts and they were announced a month and a half after Wal-Mart cut its annual earnings outlook.


BERLIN (AP) -- Volkswagen subsidiary Audi says customers in Germany can now go to its website to see if their vehicles are among those installed with software that the company says was used to manipulate U.S. emissions testing.

Audi said Friday that customers in Germany could enter their car's serial number on the www.audi.de site to see if their car is affected. Audi says the function will be extended worldwide over national Audi sites in the coming week.

The company says customers can also go to Audi dealers to check on their vehicles, and that a fix will be presented to authorities in October.

Affected are some 2.1 million Audis with the 1.6 or 2 .0 liter TDI diesel motors with the designation EA 189 that are approved for the EU5 emissions standard.


BERLIN (AP) -- A German industry group says that German car exports were up 7 percent in September compared with a year earlier, while new registrations of cars at home climbed 5 percent.

The VDA group said Friday that German manufacturers exported 417,800 cars last month. It didn't give a breakdown of the destinations but pointed to rising demand elsewhere in western Europe.

In Germany itself, registrations of both German-made and foreign-branded cars climbed 5 percent to a total 272,500. VDA said that new registrations of diesel cars accounted for about 47 percent of the total and were up 8 percent.

The group didn't break down the number of cars sold at home and exported by individual manufacturers. News of the Volkswagen diesel emissions-rigging scandal in the U.S. emerged Sept. 18.


TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Iran's state TV is reporting that Royal Dutch Shell and France's Total will be the first foreign companies to be allowed to operate gasoline stations inside Iran.

The Press TV English-language channel quotes the head of Iran's filling stations union, Bijan Haj Mohammadreza, as saying 100 new licenses have been issued to each company.

Until now, the only retail service stations belonged to the National Iranian Oil Products Distribution Company.

The agreement comes after Iran and world powers reached a deal in July that curbs the Persian country's disputed nuclear program in return for the lifting of international economic sanctions.


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) -- A regulatory agency says the nation's first offshore wind farm has experienced safety and welding problems and regulators are closely monitoring construction.

Deepwater Wind is building a five-turbine wind farm off Block Island, Rhode Island.

Inspection reports cite near misses with dropped objects, personnel working under suspended loads, the use of older cranes poorly suited to the environment and the repeated failure of rigging equipment.

The Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council says the safety problems have been addressed.

It's working with Deepwater Wind to ensure the problem with the welding process is only a paperwork issue. The welds passed inspections.

Deepwater says it's confident in the project's progress.

Construction began in July. The wind farm is expected to generate power by the end of 2016.


PORTLAND, Maine (AP) -- Some fishermen say Maine regulators' plan to place new restrictions on the scalloping industry is the right way to ensure the fishery keeps rebuilding.

Maine's meaty scallops are prized in restaurants and fish markets. Fishermen caught more than 4.9 million pounds of the scallops last year, up from less than 700,000 pounds five years earlier. Catches sometimes topped 10 million pounds in the 1990s.

Fishery managers say the scallops need additional protections along the state's southern coast. They want to close some spots to fishing and reduce the number of fishing days from 70 to 60 in the area.

Portland-based scallop fisherman Alex Todd supports the restrictions. He says fishing pressure on scallops is up because prices have been high.

Washington Times