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 July 31, 2015 18:12 GMT

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. wages and benefits grew in the spring at the slowest pace in 33 years, stark evidence that stronger hiring hasn't boosted pay. The slowdown also reflects a sharp drop-off in bonus and incentive pay.

The Labor Department says the employment cost index rose just 0.2 percent in the April-June quarter after a 0.7 increase in the first quarter. The index tracks wages, salaries and benefits. Wages and salaries alone also rose 0.2 percent.

Both measures recorded the smallest quarterly gains since the second quarter of 1982.

Salaries and benefits for private sector workers were unchanged, the weakest showing since the government began tracking the data in 1980.

In some occupations where bonuses are common, compensation fell sharply after spiking in the first quarter, including sales and management.

CONSUMER SENTIMENT

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The University of Michigan says U.S. consumer sentiment slipped this month but remains at high levels.

Michigan's index of consumer sentiment fell to 93.1 in July from 96.1 last month.

Richard Curtin, chief economist for the survey, blamed the drop on the "disappointing pace of economic growth." The government reported Thursday that the economy rose at a steady but unspectacular annual rate of 2.3 percent from April to June.

Curtin said the sentiment index has averaged 94.5 since December, the highest eight-month average since 2004.

The index was at 81.8 a year ago.

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- The World Trade Organization says China broke global trade rules by failing to comply with an earlier WTO ruling and continuing to impose duties on specialty steel imports.

The decision announced Friday was a victory for the United States and steelmakers AK Steel in West Chester, Ohio, and Allegheny Ludlum in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania.

The case dates back to 2010 when China imposed duties on a high-tech specialty steel used in power plants. Saying the duties violated trade rules, the U.S. took the case to the WTO and won. Despite the ruling, China reintroduced duties on the steel in 2013. The United States went back to the WTO, saying China was not complying with the earlier decision.

The U.S. says the duties cost American steelmakers more than $200 million in annual exports.

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In a statement posted late Thursday, Google said bowing to CNIL's request would force it also to agree to similar requests worldwide from any government that doesn't agree with how the company posts content. "The Internet would only be as free as the world's least free place," the company wrote on its Europe policy blog.

Europe's highest court ruled in May 2014 that people have the right to control what appears when their name is searched online. Google said it has received more than a quarter-million requests. In the statement, Google said it had asked CNIL to withdraw the order.

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EU Antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager said Friday she had to "make sure that FedEx's takeover of TNT would not impede effective competition and would not lead to higher prices for consumers."

The FedEx-TNT deal came two years after UPS dropped its own takeover bid for the Dutch company, citing objections from EU regulators fearing the combined company would become too dominant.

The European Commission said UPS and DHL would be the only two other viable players in the European market.

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A document released Friday showed the committee voted in favor of indicting Tsunehisa Katsumata, who was chairman of Tokyo Electric Power Co. at the time of the crisis, along with two other TEPCO executives.

The 11-member committee's second decision supporting the indictment overrides Tokyo prosecutors' two earlier decisions to drop the case, forcing the three men to be charged with professional negligence. It's the first criminal case from the nuclear disaster.

Three reactors had meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant damaged in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, triggering massive radiation leaks that forced tens of thousands of people to evacuate.

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Attorneys are eyeing a November retrial date for Kurt Mix, the former BP engineer charged with obstructing a federal investigation into the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Court papers filed Thursday show attorneys are working toward a Nov. 16 date but may seek to push the trial back to Nov. 30.

Federal prosecutors say Mix deleted text messages about the amount of oil flowing from BP's well after a 2010 rig explosion. Mix's lawyers say he shared information about the flow rate throughout the government investigation.

Mix was acquitted on one criminal count in 2013 but convicted on an obstruction of justice charge. That conviction was thrown out, however, because the forewoman was found to have improperly told a deadlocked jury about remarks she heard outside of the trial.

EARNS-EXXON MOBIL

IRVING, Texas (AP) -- Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) on Friday reported second-quarter profit of $4.19 billion.

On a per-share basis, the Irving, Texas-based company said it had net income of $1.

The results fell short of Wall Street expectations, but Exxon does not adjust its reported results based on one-time events such as asset sales. The average estimate of nine analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of $1.11 per share.

The oil and natural gas company posted revenue of $74.11 billion in the period.

EARNS-CHEVRON

SAN RAMON, Calif. (AP) -- Chevron Corp. (CVX) on Friday reported second-quarter earnings of $571 million.

On a per-share basis, the San Ramon, California-based company said it had net income of 30 cents.

The results missed Wall Street expectations, but Chevron does not adjust its reported results based on one-time events such as asset sales. The average estimate of 10 analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of $1.13 per share.

The oil company posted revenue of $40.36 billion in the period.

SOCIAL MEDIA-STOCKS DIP

NEW YORK (AP) -- It hasn't been an easy week in social media, despite double-digit revenue growth from Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. Investors are looking beyond headline numbers and finding reasons to sell.

Not even Facebook, with stronger-than-expected profit and revenue numbers and bulletproof mobile advertising strategy, was spared. Its stock is down 2.6 percent for the week, compared with a roughly 1 percent increase for the Standard & Poor's 500 index.

On Tuesday, Twitter disappointed investors with a report of stalling user growth that executives acknowledged isn't likely to change any time soon. Its stock hit its lowest level in two years and is down 12 percent for the week.

LinkedIn delivered solid results, but said one of its business segments, display advertising, is seeing some softness.

UPS-COYOTE LOGISTICS

ATLANTA (AP) -- UPS is buying Coyote Logistics for $1.8 billion as it maneuvers for a slice of the burgeoning freight brokerage business.

Coyote has helped support UPS in the past during the busy holiday season, the last two of which have caused headaches for the shipping giant.

Coyote booked revenue of $2.1 billion last year.

UPS said Friday that it expects the acquisition adding to its earnings next year. The Atlanta company anticipates the transaction could result in $100 million to $150 million in annual operating savings.

The deal is targeted to close within 30 days.

VILLAGE RANSOM

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- New York auditors say an upstate village made ransom payments of $300 and $500 last year to keep its computers running after two official-looking emails released malware throughout its system.

The mayor says the attack locked up the village's accounting systems.

New York Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli says the cyberattacks should be a wake-up call. He says it shows how a lack of information technology safeguards can cost taxpayers money and cripple day-to-day operations.

Other agencies around the country have also paid ransom to get their computers back.

In Maine this year, the Lincoln County sheriff's office paid about $300 to hackers after several unsuccessful attempts to retrieve their records themselves. A suburban Chicago police department paid a $500 ransom in January to restore access to their data.

BREWERY FATAL

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. (AP) -- A $1.2 million settlement has been reached in a wrongful death lawsuit over a keg explosion at a New Hampshire brewery.

The Portsmouth Herald reports (http://bit.ly/1IcLXea) 26-year-old worker Benjamin Harris died in April 2012 while pressurizing a plastic beer keg with air at the Redhook Ale Brewery in Portsmouth. The keg exploded, and first responders found Harris suffering from cardiac arrest with chest and head injuries.

He died at a hospital.

The lawsuit was brought against Plastic Kegs, Medway and Satellite Logistics Group, which were involved in the manufacture and distribution of the exploded keg.

The settlement benefits Harris' sister, his son born after his death and the boy's mother. Terms of the settlement were approved July 15.

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