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BREAKING NEWS

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 28, 2015 08:52 GMT

ECONOMY-THE DAY AHEAD

WASHINGTON (AP) -- As the trading week winds down, stock investors won't be getting much more economic news from the government.

There is, however, one report today that could move the markets a bit. The Commerce Department will release its report on personal income and spending for July.

CHINA-FOREIGN BUSINESS

BEIJING (AP) -- An American business group has urged to China to allow more access to its insurance and other service industries, saying foreign skills could help develop its volatile stock markets and cope with disasters like the recent chemical explosion in Tianjin.

The American Chamber of Commerce in China said Friday allowing more foreign competitors into banking, logistics and other markets would support the communist leadership's plans to nurture service industries and reduce reliance on trade and investment to drive economic growth.

The group's deputy chairman, Lester Ross, pointed to China's stock market plunge and the Aug. 12 explosion in Tianjin that killed at least 145 people, and said bringing in more global expertise could help to develop financial markets and reduce the impact of disasters.

JAPAN-ECONOMY

TOKYO (AP) -- Japan reports that its inflation rate fell slightly in July while household spending also edged lower, though incomes were boosted by higher bonus payments.

The government reported Friday that the inflation rate in July was 0.2 percent, compared with 0.4 percent in June. Core inflation excluding volatile food prices was flat. Price increases moderated with the fall in oil prices.

Household spending fell 0.2 percent in real terms on an annual basis, though incomes rose 5.4 percent in real terms, likely thanks to semi-annual bonus payments.

Japan's economy contracted 1.6 percent in April-June, but many economists are forecasting a renewed expansion in the current quarter. So far, the consumer spending that accounts for most of Japan's growth has failed to pick up much despite modest increases in some workers' wages.

FACEBOOK-ONE BILLION A DAY

NEW YORK (AP) -- For the first time, a billion people used Facebook in a single day on Monday.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg marked the occasion with a post on his Facebook page, saying that one out of seven people on Earth logged in to the social network to connect with their friends and family.

The 1 billion figure is different from the daily user numbers Facebook discloses each quarter when it reports its financial results. Those are the average number of daily users, counted over a 30-day period. Facebook had 968 million daily active users in June.

Overall, Facebook has nearly 1.5 billion users who log in at least once a month. It hit the 1 billion user milestone in October 2012. Most people on Facebook live outside the U.S. and Canada.

CHOLESTEROL DRUG-AMGEN

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Amgen Inc. has won approval for the second medicine in a new class of biotech drugs that reduce artery-clogging cholesterol more than older statin drugs that have been used for decades.

The drug Repatha could eventually help millions of Americans who face increased risks of heart disease because they cannot control their cholesterol with existing drugs. But concerns about the injectable medication's price tag and long-term benefits will likely limit its use in the near term.

The Food and Drug Administration said Thursday it approved the drug for two groups of patients. First, for patients with extremely high levels of bad cholesterol due to an inherited disorder. Second, for patients with a history of heart attack and stroke who are not able to control their cholesterol levels with older drugs.

CONTACT LENS LAWSUIT

DENVER (AP) -- Contact lens makers struggled Thursday to defend their pricing policies in a federal appeals case that could have wide-ranging effects on the $4 billion industry.

At issue is a Utah law banning minimum prices for contact lenses. The nation's largest contact lens companies asked the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver Thursday to strike down the measure. They say it was crafted just to help a homegrown discounter, 1 800 Contacts.

But a three-judge panel grilled the contact lens lawyers about why they don't simply stop doing business in Utah if they insist on price minimums.

A lawyer for Utah accused the contact lens makers of nationwide price-fixing and said that lens prices would drop as much as 35 percent nationally if the manufacturers dropped price minimums.

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