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 23, 2014 17:33 GMT

OVERSEAS TAX BREAKS-COMPANIES

NEW YORK (AP) -- A handful of companies pursuing overseas deals that could lower their tax rates are under pressure after the U.S. unveiled rules that would make those deals less lucrative.

The Treasury Department announced new regulations yesterday that would make it less lucrative to pursue a so-called inversion. Under such a deal, an American company buys a foreign firm, then re-incorporates overseas.

The pharmaceutical company AbbVie, based in Chicago, reached an agreement to buy Dublin-based Shire in July for $54 billion. Shares of both companies sank in Tuesday trading. AbbVie lost 2 percent in New York trading, while Shire sank 2 percent in London.

Among other companies getting hit in Tuesday trading, Minneapolis-based Medtronic Inc., which plans to buy Dublin-based Covidien Plc., fell 4 percent. Covidien lost 3 percent. The British drugmaker AstraZeneca, still considered a likely takeover candidate after it successfully rebuffed overtures from Pfizer Inc. earlier this year, slumped 3 percent.

WORLD TRADE

BERLIN (AP) -- The World Trade Organization has sharply reduced its forecast for global trade growth this year, pointing to uneven economic growth in countries including China and the U.S.

The WTO said Tuesday that its economists are now predicting 3.1 percent growth in world trade this year, down from the 4.7 percent forecast in April. They also cut their outlook for 2015 to 4 percent from the previous 5.3 percent.

The Geneva-based body said global trade stagnated in the first six months of this year as a gradual recovery in demand for imports in developed countries was offset by declines in developing countries.

Its director-general, Roberto Azevedo, said that "uneven growth and continuing geopolitical tensions will remain a risk for both trade and output in the second half of the year."

EUROPE-ECONOMY

LONDON (AP) -- Further evidence has emerged to show that the economic momentum across the 18-country eurozone is petering out.

In its monthly survey, financial information company Markit says its purchasing managers' index for the eurozone -- a gauge of business activity -- fell to a nine-month low of 52.3 in September from the previous month's 52.5.

Though anything above 50 indicates expansion, the survey found that France remains a laggard.

It also suggested that growth may slow further in the fourth quarter as new manufacturing orders fell for the first time in 15 months.

Markit's chief economist, Chris Williamson, says the danger is that the European Central Bank's recent efforts to stimulate the eurozone economy will "prove ineffective in the face of such headwinds."

GREECE-BAILOUT

BERLIN (AP) -- Greece's prime minister says his country isn't seeking another international financial rescue and has indicated that a new economic reform plan is coming soon.

Since 2010, Greece has relied on two bailout packages totaling 240 billion euros ($308 billion). Payments from eurozone partners are due to end this year while those from the International Monetary Fund conclude in 2016.

After meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said "Greece can now stand on its own two feet and ... we believe we do not require a new support package."

Samaras added that Greece will soon propose "its own framework to continue reforms in the years to come, beyond the timetable of the (bailout) agreements."

Germany has been the single biggest contributor to Greece's bailouts.

CLIMATE SUMMIT

UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- World leaders are promising billions of dollars to take better care of planet Earth at a United Nations summit on climate changes.

The non-binding pledges are coming in response to a challenge from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. At the opening of the one-day summit, Ban said the world needs to set a new course for a warming globe and reverse the rise of heat-trapping gases.

By mid-morning, world leaders had made pledges of at least $5 billion to help the world become more sustainable. And the European Union offered a rare proposal -- specific targets beyond 2020.

The EU says its member nations will cut greenhouse gases so that by 2030 they would be 40 percent below the 1990 level. The vow also calls for using renewable energy for 27 percent of the bloc's power needs and to increase energy efficiency by 30 percent.

BRAZIL-DEFORESTATION

NEW YORK (AP) -- More than 30 countries are setting the first-ever deadline to halt deforestation by 2030 to curb global warming.

The United States, Canada and the entire European Union were among 32 countries signing on to a declaration to halve forest loss by 2020 and stop it by 2030 at the U.N. climate summit Tuesday.

But the enthusiasm for the pledge was tempered when Brazil, home to wide swaths of Amazon rainforest, said it would not join.

If the goal is met, the U.N. says it would be the equivalent of taking every car off the road in the world. The group also pledged to restore more than one million square miles of forest worldwide by 2030. Norway vowed to spend $350 million to protect forests in Peru and another $100 million in Liberia.

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