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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 September 30, 2014 17:13 GMT

HOME PRICES

WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. home prices in July increased at the slowest pace in 20 months, reflecting sluggish sales and a greater supply of houses for sale.

The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose 6.7 percent in July from 12 months earlier. That's down from an 8.1 percent gain in June and the smallest increase since November 2012.

Nineteen of the 20 cities in the index reported lower annual gains than in June. And a new national index of home prices compiled by S&P rose just 5.6 percent.

Lower price gains should make homes more affordable for would-be buyers. Sales of existing homes picked up over the summer but then dipped in August. Sales have fallen 5.3 percent in the past year.

CONSUMER CONFIDENCE

WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. consumer confidence dropped in September after hitting the highest level in nearly seven years in August.

The Conference Board says its confidence index fell to 86.0, the first decline after four months of gains. It fell from a revised 93.4 in August, which had been the highest level since autumn 2007 before the Great Recession officially began in December 2007.

Conference Board economists say the decline reflected a less positive view of the current state of the job market.

OBAMA-ECONOMY

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama will deliver an economic address this week, hoping to promote the recovery as the campaign season heads into its final weeks before midterm congressional elections.

Obama plans to deliver a speech Thursday at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management in Evanston, Illinois, drawing attention to economic advances since he took office. The White House says he will also press for additional steps that the government can undertake to create jobs and improve wages.

The speech comes amid polls that still show the economy is the top issue with voters and that a majority of voters disapprove of Obama's handling of the economy. The speech marks a shift from Obama's recent attention to international crises, particularly the start of a new bombing campaign against Islamic extremists.

EBAY-PAYPAL SPLIT

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- PayPal is splitting from EBay Inc. and will become a separate and publicly traded company next year.

The separation is expected to occur in the second half of 2015.

EBay says its board decided that the separation was the best path for growth and shareholder value creation for each business.

Dan Schulman, the president of the enterprise growth group at American Express, will be the new president at PayPal, effective immediately. The 56-year-old will become PayPal's CEO once the separation takes place.

EUROPE-ECONOMY

BRUSSELS (AP) -- Official figures show inflation across the 18 European Union countries that use the euro dipped further toward zero in September, a move that's likely to maintain pressure on the European Central Bank to back further stimulus measures.

Eurostat, the EU's statistics office, says consumer prices in the eurozone rose only 0.3 percent in the year to September against the previous month's 0.4 percent.

Inflation, which is at its lowest level since October 2009, is way below the ECB's target of just below 2 percent.

One reason behind the ECB's recent interest rate reductions has been to prevent a sustained bout of falling prices -- so-called deflation, which can make consumers delay purchases.

Eurostat also said unemployment in the eurozone was unchanged at 11.5 percent in August.

BRITAIN-ECONOMY

LONDON (AP) -- The U.K. economy grew faster in the second quarter than previously estimated, with official figures revising up the quarter-on-quarter growth rate by 0.1 percentage points to 0.9 percent.

The Office for National Statistics revision came at the same time as officials put into place data and methodological changes meant to make Britain comply with international norms.

Joe Grice says that despite the changes the country's long-term average growth rate is little changed, though the economic downturn ended about nine months earlier than thought.

He notes that "the recent downturn continues to be the deepest since ONS records began." Chris Williamson, analyst at Markit.com, says the new statistics show the economy is now 2.7 percent larger than it pre-crisis peak.

BRITAIN-RBS

LONDON (AP) -- Taxpayer-owned Royal Bank of Scotland says strong economic conditions are boosting its finances and that it expects to take a smaller hit from bad investments this year.

The bank, which was rescued by the British taxpayer during the 2008 financial crisis, issued an unscheduled trading update today to report it would "significantly outperform" its previous guidance of 1 billion pounds ($1.6 billion) in impairment charges. It says it now expects to put aside only half a billion pounds for bad loans.

Rising property prices in Ireland have helped its Ulster Bank unit. RBS Capital Resolution, which contains toxic investments, has improved with the economy. RBS says uncertainties remain, however.

The bank is undergoing a sweeping restructuring to focus on its core business in the U.K.

EUROPE-APPLE-TAX PROBE

BRUSSELS (AP) -- The European Union's competition watchdog says tax rebates that Ireland granted iPhone maker Apple appear to amount to illegal state aid and may have to be recouped.

Apple Inc. funnels the bulk of its international sales through subsidiaries in Ireland, where it benefits from low, negotiated tax deals.

In a letter to the Irish government published Tuesday, the 28-nation bloc's executive Commission said the tax treatment granted to Apple raises "doubts about the compatibility" with EU law.

The Commission says tax deals struck with Apple in 1991 and then 2007 show "several inconsistencies" and may not comply with international taxation standards.

The EU first announced the probe in June. It's now requesting further documents from Ireland before making a decision, which is likely to take several months.

EARNS-WALGREEN

DEERFIELD, Ill. (AP) -- Walgreen Co. (WAG) reports a loss of $239 million in its fiscal fourth quarter.

On a per-share basis, the Deerfield, Illinois-based company says it had a loss of 25 cents. Earnings, adjusted for non-recurring costs and amortization costs, came to 74 cents per share.

The results met Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was also for earnings of 74 cents per share.

The drugstore chain posted revenue of $19.06 billion in the period, exceeding Street forecasts. Analysts expected $19.02 billion, according to Zacks.

Walgreen shares have increased nearly 4 percent since the beginning of the year, while the S&P 500 has climbed 7 percent. The stock has climbed slightly more than 9 percent in the last 12 months.

JOHNSON & JOHNSON-ACQUISITION

Johnson & Johnson buying Alios for $1.75B

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (AP) -- Johnson & Johnson is buying the biopharmaceutical company Alios BioPharma Inc. for about $1.75 billion.

Alios is a privately held company that focuses on developing therapies for viral diseases.

The deal includes Alios' portfolio of potential therapeutics for viral infections including compound AL-8176, an orally administered antiviral therapy currently in Phase 2 studies for the treatment of infants with respiratory syncytial virus. RSV typically causes only mild, cold-like symptoms in most children. But it is also the most common cause of pneumonia in U.S. infants.

The acquisition is targeted to close in the fourth quarter.

Johnson & Johnson is based in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

NEWS CORP-ACQUISITION

NEW YORK (AP) -- News Corp. is spending about $950 million to buy the online real estate business Move Inc., in a deal that aims to speed up the media company's digital expansion.

News Corp. says it will pay $21 per share in cash for each outstanding share of Move. That represents a 37 percent premium over the stock's closing stock price of $15.29 on Monday.

Move operates the website realtor.com and News Corp. says it displays more than 98 percent of all for-sale properties listed in the United States. The media company says Move's network of websites reaches about 35 million people per month.

New York-based News Corp., which is controlled by Rupert Murdoch, expects the deal to close at the end of the year. Move's board has unanimously approved the acquisition.

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