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 September 18, 2014 07:45 GMT

WORLD MARKETS

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- Asian stock markets mostly fell today after the U.S. Federal Reserve increased its estimate for the level of the central bank's benchmark interest rate by the end of 2015, surprising investors who expected a slower pace of rate hikes.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng was down 0.7 percent to 24,199.87 and South Korea's Kospi dropped 0.8 percent to 2,046.53.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 declined 0.1 percent to 5,399.60.

Stocks in New Zealand and mainland China also fell but Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 1.3 percent to 16,099.30 as the yen weakened.

ECONOMY-THE DAY AHEAD

WASHINGTON (AP) -- There are two government reports due out today.

The Labor Department will release data on the number of people who applied for unemployment benefits last week. For the previous week, slightly more Americans sought benefits, but the total number receiving aid remained at a seven-year low.

The Commerce Department reports on U.S. home construction in August. In July, construction rebounded to an eight-month high, offering hope that housing had regained momentum after two months of declines.

Also today, Freddie Mac will release average mortgage rates for this week. Last week, the average for the 30-year loan edged up to 4.12 percent from 4.10 percent the previous week. At 4.12 percent, the average rate is still down sharply from 4.53 percent at the start of the year.

`And Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen will speak today on the importance of asset building for low- and middle-income households at a conference of the Corporation for Enterprise Development in Washington.

JAPAN-TRADE

TOKYO (AP) -- Japan has logged a 948.5 billion yen ($8.8 million) trade deficit in August, the 26th straight month of red ink, as weak demand at home hit imports while exports also fell.

The Finance Ministry reported Thursday that exports fell 1.3 percent from a year earlier to 5.71 trillion yen ($53.3 billion) while imports dropped 1.5 percent to 6.65 trillion yen ($62.1 billion).

A weakening in the value of the Japanese yen has so far failed to spur a rebound in exports, despite nascent recoveries in the U.S. and Europe. Slower growth in China, Japan's biggest trading partner, has also hurt.

But consumer spending inside Japan has been lackluster since an April 1 sales tax, reducing demand for imports. Weaker oil prices have also cut costs for imported oil and gas.

TOY MANUFACTURING

BURNHAM, Maine (AP) -- Lincoln Logs, the popular toy created nearly a century ago by the son of famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright, is coming home to the U.S.A.

Maine Gov. Paul LePage announced Wednesday the toy logs, created by John Lloyd Wright and used to create miniature toy buildings, will be made at Pride Manufacturing, a wood products company in Burnham.

The toy has been made in China. But Pride Manufacturing officials say that when production of the wooden pieces ramps up, possibly in November, 80 percent of the toy will be made at the plant in Maine.

Some plastic pieces will still be made in China.

Hatfield, Pennsylvania-based K'NEX currently holds the product license.

ROCKET ENGINES

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos plans to build a rocket engine that would eventually replace the Russian mainstay used in many American unmanned launches.

United Launch Alliance, a collaboration of two aerospace giants that launches unmanned rockets, announced Wednesday that it will pay Bezos' Blue Origin space firm to develop new rocket engines. In about four years, the launch alliance hopes to start using the new engines in Delta and Atlas rockets.

Some experts worry that tensions over Ukraine might interrupt the supply of Russian engines, but alliance chief Tory Bruno said that's not a problem.

Bezos said he will proceed with plans for his private human space capsule to launch later this decade. However, Bezos' firm wasn't picked Tuesday by NASA for its $6.8 billion private space taxi program.

USDA-WEED KILLER

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Agriculture Department is approving the use of genetically modified corn and soybean seeds that are resistant to a popular weed killer.

However, farmers won't be able to take full advantage of the seeds until the Environmental Protection Agency issues a second ruling allowing the use of Enlist, a new version of the 2,4-D weed killer that's been around since the 1940s. The EPA has said it will rule this fall on Dow AgroSciences' application to market the chemical.

The agriculture industry has been anxiously awaiting the approvals, as many weeds have become resistant to glyphosate, an herbicide commonly used on corn and soybeans now.

Critics say they are concerned the increased use of 2,4-D could endanger public health and that more study on the chemical is needed.

APPLE-IOS BUG

NEW YORK (AP) -- A bug in Apple's new iOS 8 software for mobile devices is prompting the company to withhold apps that use a highly touted feature for keeping track of fitness and health data.

Apple says it hopes to have HealthKit apps restored to its app store by the end of the month. Affected apps include Carrot Fit, WebMD and AskMD. Apple didn't provide details on what went wrong.

The iOS 8 software became available Wednesday. HealthKit is supposed to create a central repository for health and fitness data, so that apps have a better picture of your overall wellness and can even recommend trips to the doctor.

Apple's new iPhones have sensors to monitor fitness activities, and its upcoming Apple Watch will have a heart-rate monitor.

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