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 November 27, 2015 08:32 GMT


UNDATED (AP) --The Super Bowl of shopping has had an early start again this year, but most of the action is expected today.

Early numbers aren't out yet on how many shoppers headed to stores on Thanksgiving, but it's estimated that more than three times the number of people will venture out to shop on the day after the holiday known as Black Friday.

Overall, the National Retail Federation expected about 30 million to shop on Thanksgiving, compared with 99.7 million on Black Friday. A total of about 135.8 million people will be shopping during the full four-day weekend, compared with 133.7 million last year. And the retail association expects sales overall for November and December to rise 3.7 percent to $630.5 billion compared with the same period last year.

But people may not be in the mood to shop much this year. Unemployment has settled into a healthy 5 percent rate, but shoppers still grapple with stagnant wages that are not keeping pace with rising daily costs like rent. And years later, they still insist on the deep discounts they got used to retailers offering during the recession.


Japan's jobless rate at 20-year low; consumer spending drops

TOKYO (AP) -- Japan's jobless rate fell to a 20-year low in October, but consumer spending and incomes also edged lower as the tight labor market failed to spur significant increases in wages.

The government reported Friday that unemployment in the world's No. 3 economy dipped to 3.1 percent in October, compared with a rate of 3.4 percent in September.

Consumer spending, meanwhile, fell 2.4 percent from the same month a year earlier, while average incomes fell 0.9 percent.

Japan's inflation rate also was lower in October, with core inflation excluding volatile food prices down 0.1 percent for the third month in a row.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has called for a 3 percent increase in the minimum wage to accelerate inflation by raising consumer demand through higher incomes.


MOSCOW (AP) -- Russia plans to retaliate against Turkey for the downing of a warplane by imposing sanctions, cutting economic ties and scrapping major investment projects.

Since the plane was shot down Tuesday in disputed circumstances on the Syria-Turkey border, Russia has restricted tourism, left Turkish trucks stranded at the border and announced the confiscation of large quantities of Turkish food imports.

On Thursday, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev (dih-MEE'-tree med-VYEH'-dyev) ordered his government to draft sanctions against Turkey within the next two days.

The sanctions are to include restrictions on deliveries of food and other products as well as labor and services.

Russia is the largest destination for Turkey's exports, and the two countries are bound by plans for a new gas pipeline and strong trade in food and tourism.

Overall, the nosedive in relations threatens billions of dollars of international trade.


WASHINGTON (AP) -- A weaker global economy -- and a slowdown in China -- will likely dampen some of the growth in air travel over the next two decades.

The International Air Transport Association says the number of airline passengers is expected to double to 7 billion by 2034. That figure marks a decrease from a prior forecast of passengers totaling 7.4 billion in 2034, reflecting lower economic growth in China that will likely reduce demand for travel and potentially limit airplane orders for manufacturers Boeing and Airbus.

Despite the lower forecast, China is expected to add 758 million new passengers for a total of 1.2 billion flyers. Those gains would likely mean that China surpasses the United States as the world's largest passenger market by 2029.

Washington Times