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 January 27, 2015 08:27 GMT

ECONOMY-THE-DAY-AHEAD

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal Reserve policymakers will have a batch of fresh data to consider as they begin a two-day meeting to look at interest rates.

The Commerce Department releases December data on durable goods order this morning. Factory orders slumped in November, largely due to falling demand in the military and defense sectors. But a key category that economists view as a proxy for business investment spending was flat after declines the previous two months.

Also this morning, Standard & Poor's releases the S&P/Case-Shiller index of home prices for November. The rise in prices slowed in October amid falling real estate sales. New home sales were down in November, and the Commerce Department will offer December sales figures this morning.

And the Conference Board releases its Consumer Confidence Index for January this morning. December's report showed growing optimism.

Also today, there's a full lineup of corporate earnings reports expected today. DuPont, American Airlines, Caterpillar, Procter & Gamble, 3M and Pfizer all report quarterly financial results before the market opens. Apple, Amgen, AT&T and Yahoo release results after the market closes.

BUDGET DEFICIT

WASHINGTON (AP) --The Congressional Budget Office says the federal budget deficit will shrink this year to its lowest level since President Barack Obama took office.

CBO says the deficit will be $468 billion for the budget year that ends in September. That's slightly less than last year's $483 billion deficit.

As a share of the economy, CBO says this year's deficit will be slightly below the historical average of the past 50 years.

In a report released Monday, the agency projects solid economic growth for the next few years. The official scorekeeper of Congress also expects unemployment to drop slightly.

Beyond 2018, CBO projects deficits to start rising again as more baby boomers retire and enroll in Social Security and Medicare.

NORTH DAKOTA SALTWATER SPILL

MARMON, N.D. (AP) -- The Environmental Protection Agency says more than 4 million gallons of a mixture of fresh water, brine and oil have been pumped from the area affected by the largest saltwater spill of North Dakota's current energy boom.

The federal agency made public on Monday an assessment on the nearly 3 million-gallon spill of saltwater generated by oil drilling that leaked from a ruptured pipeline. Operator Summit Midstream Partners LLC detected the spill Jan. 6, but it's still unclear exactly when it occurred and what caused it.

Saltwater, also known as brine, is an oil-production byproduct that's considered an environmental hazard.

The EPA also says dams are being constructed in case water levels rise as ice melts, and to contain the drainage of saltwater.

ARCTIC OFFSHORE LEASING

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) -- Alaska's congressional delegation is expecting the federal government to pull additional areas from consideration for Arctic Ocean offshore drilling when it announces a five-year drilling plan.

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski says she was briefed last week by the Interior Department on the upcoming drilling plan.

Federal waters used by subsistence hunters are other areas that were excluded from leasing in past sales. Murkowski says she was told those exclusions could be made permanent and additional areas pulled from consideration.

She's says that's another blow to development in the state, which already is suffering with the drop in oil prices.

Murkowski, Sen. Dan Sullivan and U.S. Rep. Don Young spoke at a news conference in Washington, D.C., to state their objections to pursue a wilderness designation for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

CONGRESS-KEYSTONE

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Senate Democrats have temporarily stalled progress on a bill to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline, the top priority of the Republican-controlled Congress.

The Senate voted 53-39 Monday to cut off debate on the bill, in a procedural vote. That's short of the 60 votes needed.

The vote caps a partisan dispute over the time granted to consider amendments to the bill.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants to move to pass the legislation, which has enough support. Democrats argued they needed more time to debate additions.

Some Democrats who had supported previous bills approving the pipeline, including one of the bill's current sponsors, helped filibuster the move to limit debate.

PORT LABOR

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- West Coast dockworkers and their employers have resolved a key dispute in new contract talks.

A spokesman for the Pacific Maritime Association, which represents operators of port terminals, says companies and union negotiators reached a tentative agreement on whether the union would maintain and repair truck beds that haul containers that have been unloaded from ships.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union had no immediate comment.

Who handles truck chasses emerged as a stumbling block in contract talks. The union wanted those jobs, partly because automation at seaports could erode its membership.

Cargo has been moving slowly through West Coast ports, which link the U.S. to Asia. Employers say workers are slowing down; workers blame employers, citing the outsourcing of chassis repair as one problem.

WINTER WEATHER-UBER-LYFT

NEW YORK (AP) -- Want a ride home from car service Uber during the major snowstorm descending on the Northeast? Expect to pay more than the usual fare.

Still, after taking heat for big price increases during past storms, Uber has capped how much prices can rise in U.S. cities during disasters or emergencies.

In New York City, surge pricing will be capped at 2.8 times -- nearly triple -- the normal fare. The San Francisco company is also planning to donate the proceeds after paying drivers to the American Red Cross. That's part of its nationwide policy during disasters and emergencies after criticism when prices surged during Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

At smaller rival Lyft, prices never go higher than three times the regular rate.

advertisement
Washington Times
advertisement