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 August 03, 2015 07:28 GMT

ECONOMY-THE DAY AHEAD

WASHINGTON (AP) ---- There are two government economic reports due out today. Both of them are from the Commerce Department. One report deals with personal income and spending data for June. The other report looks at June's construction spending.

The Institute for Supply Management will release its manufacturing index for July as well.

Also today, automakers will report on vehicle sales in the month of July.

FIAT CHRYSLER-RECALL

Dodge Chargers recalled; door slam can make air bags inflate

DETROIT (AP) -- Fiat Chrysler is recalling more than 322,000 sedans worldwide because side air bags can inflate if doors are slammed too hard.

The recall covers certain Dodge Chargers from the 2011 to 2014 model years, mainly in the U.S. and Canada.

Earlier this month, more than 843,000 Dodge Ram pickup trucks were recalled for the same problem. The company says the Charger recall came from an internal investigation launched because of the truck recall.

Fiat Chrysler says the air bag control modules may be too sensitive and need to be recalibrated. The company says it knows of three minor injuries from the problem.

Owners will be notified when they can bring cars in for repairs. In the meantime, the company says people should use caution when closing doors.

FIAT CHRYSLER-HACKING

NEW YORK (AP) -- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened an investigation into Harman car radios following a recent recall of 1.4 million Fiat Chrysler cars and trucks due to a hacking vulnerability.

Hackers got into a Jeep Cherokee SUV through an electronic opening in the radio and were able to take control of the car over the Internet. The vulnerability, exposed by two security experts and well-known hackers, was first disclosed in Wired magazine.

In response, Fiat Chrysler said it sealed off a loophole in its internal cellular telephone network with vehicles to prevent similar attacks and issued a voluntary recall.

The NHTSA is investigating which other cars have the affected radios and whether they are vulnerable.

VERIZON-LABOR TALKS

NEW YORK (AP) -- Verizon and unions representing workers in nine states said employees will work without a contract as more negotiations are scheduled.

The wireless carrier and leaders of the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers announced the decision early Sunday, shortly after a contract covering 39,000 workers expired.

The unions say they are prepared to schedule regular bargaining sessions, but that they will leave the sites of their round-the-clock negotiations in Philadelphia and Rye, New York.

Marc Reed, Verizon's chief administrative officer, says the company is "disappointed" it was unable to reach an agreement with the unions despite "six weeks of good faith bargaining and a very strong effort by the company." However, he says Verizon representatives will continue to meet with union leaders.

The unions say the telecom giant is demanding that workers sharply increase their health care contributions and make concession on pensions.

EARNS-HSBC

HONG KONG (AP) -- HSBC Holdings PLC, Europe's biggest bank, says that strong performance in Asia helped to boost first-half profit by 10 percent. The bank also announced the sale of its Brazil business for $5.2 billion.

Profit for the six months ending June 30 rose to $13.6 billion, or 48 cents per share. The bank, which is listed on stock exchanges in Hong Kong and London, says revenue rose 4 percent from a year earlier to $30.8 billion.

CEO Stuart Gulliver cited growth in commercial banking in Hong Kong and Britain and in wealth management in Asia.

HSBC announced it is selling its business in Brazil to Banco Bradesco SA as part of plans announced in June to simplify its sprawling global operations. HSBC said it would keep an operation in Brazil to serve major corporate customers.

HSBC operates in 70 countries and has about 51 million customers.

The June plans call for the London-based bank to cut about 10 percent of its workforce, or some 25,000 jobs, and reduce annual expenses by $4.5-$5 billion.

The bank also has says it plans to sell its operations in Turkey.

AT&T-TV AND WIRELESS

AT&T, as new owner of DirecTV, offers TV-wireless package

NEW YORK (AP) -- AT&T is unveiling a new package that combines traditional TV and wireless services as it seeks to broaden its offerings following its $48.5 billion purchase of satellite TV company DirecTV about a week ago.

The change isn't huge, given that AT&T and DirecTV already had cross-marketing deals as separate companies.

But Monday's announcement is "the first step of what's to come," according to Brad Bentley, AT&T's chief marketing officer for entertainment and Internet services.

Bentley said AT&T is planning several products to integrate mobile phone and TV services but he wouldn't provide details on those plans.

The package announced Monday largely amounts to a $10-a-month discount for getting TV and wireless services at any level on the same bill. Bentley said customers also would have a single number to call for customer service, and employees at AT&T stores would be able to set up customers' phones so that they could start watching TV through apps right away, even before service is installed in the living room.

TEXAS ATTORNEY GENERAL-INVESTIGATION

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- A special prosecutor says Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has been indicted on felony charges accusing the Republican of misleading investors before taking office.

Kent Schaffer, a Houston defense attorney appointed by a judge to the case, told The New York Times on Saturday that Collin County grand jurors indicted Paxton on two counts of first-degree securities fraud and a lesser charge of not registering.

The most serious allegations are that he encouraged investment in a tech startup that's now under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The charges stem from activity before Paxton took office in January. Paxton was fined last year for not disclosing to Texas securities regulators he was getting commissions for soliciting investors.

TRUMP-DC HOTEL

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Donald Trump's organization is suing celebrity chef Jose Andres for backing out of a hotel project in Washington.

Andres had planned to open a restaurant at the Trump International Hotel. Trump's organization was selected by the federal government to renovate the historic Old Post Office building on Pennsylvania Avenue and turn it into a luxury hotel.

Andres announced last month that he was canceling plans to open the restaurant, citing what he called Trump's disparaging comments about Mexican immigrants. Andres is an immigrant from Spain.

The lawsuit filed Friday in federal court in Washington says Andres' decision has already cost Trump's organization millions of dollars. It says Andres signed a lease that obligated him to build a restaurant in the space and pay rent for 10 years.

BOX OFFICE

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The stakes may be high for Ethan Hunt and his team in "Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation," but it was hardly impossible for the Tom Cruise pic to conquer the box office.

The fifth installment in the nearly 20-year-old film series has earned $56 million, according to studio estimates Sunday.

It's the second-highest opening for a "Mission" film since "Mission Impossible II" took in $57 million over Memorial Day weekend in 2000.

The Paramount and Skydance Productions film cost a reported $150 million to produce and should have no problem making up its budget, especially with overseas earnings.

Meanwhile, Warner Bros.' "Vacation" has gone off track. The poorly reviewed, $30 million film earned $14.9 million over the weekend, and $21.2 million since opening Wednesday.

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