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.

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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 November 28, 2014 08:26 GMT

WTO-GLOBAL TRADE DEAL

GENEVA (AP) -- The World Trade Organization has pulled off a major deal that could boost global commerce by $1 trillion annually after years of negotiation.

Diplomats says the deal approved Thursday is the first multilateral trade agreement in the organization's 20-year history. It will go into effect after all 160 member countries ratify, expected sometime next year.

A U.S.-India deal this month over food stockpiling by India cleared the way for the agreement that U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said "preserved the letter and spirit of the package of decisions" reached at a WTO summit last December in Bali.

European Union Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem said the deal will "lift millions out of poverty."

OPEC MEETING

VIENNA (AP) -- OPEC oil ministers have decided to keep their present output target at 30 million barrels a day, despite an oversupply of crude and plunging prices.

The decision Thursday was expected. OPEC oil power Saudi Arabia had indicated before the meeting that it favors the status-quo.

The Saudis are the top producers within the 12-nation organization and effectively decide the cartel's policy.

Some less well-off members had favored a cut, to reduce supplies and push prices back up. But because of booming shale production in the U.S, that would not have made a sizable dent in supply.

JAPAN-ECONOMY

TOKYO (AP) -- Japan's inflation rate fell to a six-month low, highlighting the difficulty Prime Minister Shinzo Abe faces in his campaign to overcome deflation in the world's third-largest economy.

The core consumer price index, excluding fresh foods, rose 2.9 percent in October from a year earlier, according to data released Friday. Excluding the impact of a 3 percentage point sales tax hike in April, it rose 0.9 percent.

The tax hike broadsided the recovery as consumers and companies reined in spending after splashing out early in the year. Retail spending and household incomes also fell in October from a year earlier.

Other data for October were mixed. Industrial output edged up from the month before but fell 1 percent from a year earlier. The unemployment rate eased slightly.

HOLIDAY SHOPPING-THANKSGIVING

NEW YORK (AP) -- It's what's quickly becoming a new holiday tradition, gift shopping on Thanksgiving.

Just a few years ago when some stores started opening late on the holiday, the move was met with resistance from workers and shoppers who believed the day should be sacred.

Last year, more than dozen major retailers opened at some point on Thanksgiving evening. And this year, at least half of them opened earlier in the evening.

The Thanksgiving openings are one way retailers are trying to compete for Americans' holiday dollars. Retailers used to focus sales promotions on Black Friday. But increasingly, they've been pushing promotions earlier to grab deal-hungry shoppers' attention.

The National Retail Federation expects 25.6 million shoppers to take advantage of the Thanksgiving openings and it's starting to take a bite out of Black Friday business. Indeed, sales dropped 13.2 percent to $9.74 billion on Black Friday last year.

ARGENTINA-HSBC

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) -- Argentina's tax agency charged HSBC bank Thursday with helping more than 4,000 Argentines evade taxes by placing their money in secret Swiss accounts.

The head of the country's AFIP tax agency, Ricardo Echegaray, said Argentine citizens evaded about $3 billion in taxes that were handled by intermediaries through a network of offshore accounts.

Echegaray alleged that some of those accounts in Geneva are owned by HSBC Argentina's president and other bank executives. He did not say if the bank's operations had been suspended in Argentina.

AFIP said it got its information from France, where HSBC was placed under formal investigation last week for possibly aiding tax evasion. The banking company has also been charged in Belgium with organized fiscal fraud.

HSBC said it respects Argentine laws and has committed no wrongdoing.

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