All Things Considered

Weekday evenings from 4-6:30 p.m. and Weekends from 5-6 p.m.
  • Hosted by Jennifer White, Robert Siegel, Audie Cornish , Melissa Block

All Things Considered is the most listened-to, afternoon drive-time, news radio program in the country. Each evening hear the biggest stories of the day, thoughtful commentaries, interviews, and insightful features on the quirky and the mainstream in arts and life, music and entertainment, all brought alive through sound.

Michigan State Capitol
Jimmy Emerson / Flickr

This week two separate federal appeals court rulings came down on opposite sides of a key provision in the Affordable Care Act. This leaves thousands of low and middle income Michiganders who signed up for healthcare through Michigan’s exchange in a bit of limbo. 

Jennifer White, host of All Things Considered, is joined by Marianne Udow Phillips, Director, Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants. 

Phillips states that although these rulings were issued nothing is going to change immediately and that it is important to understand that the legal rulings will take time to play out. 

“It would have a huge impact and it would really push the whole system into chaos,” explains Phillips. “There are 240,000 in Michigan who have already gotten health insurance coverage through the health insurance exchange with a subsidy, and so were they to lose that subsidy, almost all of them would not be able to afford healthcare coverage.” 

Sikkema states that it is a very polarizing topic and coupled with an election year, politicians and candidates have honed in on the issue. “It already is a big political issue; it’s the primary political issue for Republicans who are running for office” says Sikkema, “but it’s really hard to look in your crystal ball and see what the future of the Affordable Care Act is going to be.”

Thetoad / Flickr

Every week, we take a look at what’s happening in Michigan politics with Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants.

It’s been a rough couple of weeks for Aramark, the company that provides food services for Michigan prisons, which has come under a lot of criticism.

Prisons have complained of food shortages and maggots have been found in prison kitchens. There have also been a number of issues with Aramark employees smuggling contraband into prisons and just this week, four Aramark staffers were fired for having inappropriate contact with prisoners.

According to Demas, when the state of Michigan decided to privatize the food services in prisons, the objective of the governor and the Legislature was to save money and increase efficiency, but so far it has been marred with problems.

Meanwhile, Sikkema explains that when the initial discussions were taking place about the most effective ways to save money, privatization was more of a priority for certain legislators, and not necessarily that of the Department of Corrections. Sikkema elaborates that the operational costs have gone up significantly over the past several decades, and as a result, legislators have called for some form of privatization to scale back the spending.

After issues began to surface with Aramark following the contract, Demas asserts that the response of the state has been keeping tabs and trying to correct the mistakes, but so far, there has been no push to try and eliminate the contract.

“I do think it clearly raises a question, whether the savings, which are estimated to between $12 to $16 million a year in a $2 billion budget, are worth the problems that they’ve encountered: food issues, sanitation issues, high turnover of staff, sexual misconduct, smuggling of contraband like marijuana into the prisons; I don’t see the contract surviving if these problems continue” says Sikkema.

Omar Saadeh - Michigan Radio Newsroom

Kildee says one way Iran can show it can be trusted to work with the U.S. is if Iran releases Amir Hekmati, a Flint man who has been imprisoned in Iran for nearly three years. A retired U.S. marine, Hekmati was arrested on charges of spying while visiting
Hekmati family

Amir Hekmati is a former Marine from Flint, Michigan.

More than two and a half years ago, while visiting family in Iran, Hekmati was arrested and charged with espionage. His initial death sentence was overturned, but now reports have surfaced that Hekmati was secretly retried in December 2013.

He was convicted of "partial collaboration with the American government," and sentenced to 10 years in prison. 

Michigan gun law trifecta

Jan 24, 2013
JMR Photography / Flickr

This week, host Jenn White takes a look at Michigan politics with Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service.

Yesterday, a state senate panel sent three gun related bills to the senate floor. The first would prohibit federal regulation of firearms and ammunition manufactured in Michigan, while the second would exempt certain information about gun owners and their weapons from Freedom of Information requests. The third bill would make state laws regarding gun dealers consistent with federal regulations. 

Although Susan Demas is unsure as to how the bills, which supersede federal regulations would work, she does expect a backlash in court proceedings, if Governor Snyder signs these controversial bills.

"I'm sure we would see a court challenge if Governor Snyder were to receive these bills and sign them. The Senate today did pass the 'low-hanging fruit bill,' the one which seeks to alter language a little bit to keep us in line with the Fed. That's pretty uncontroversial. But this 'Firearms Freedom Act' as it's being called, that's very controversial," Demas said.