health benefits

Politics & Government
7:16 am
Tue July 2, 2013

In this morning's news: Challenge to gay marriage ban, changing public defense, bankruptcy in Flint

Morning News Roundup for Tuesday, July 2, 2013
User: Brother O'Mara flickr

Federal judge will hear challenge to gay marriage ban

A federal judge is allowing a legal challenge to Michigan adoption laws and its ban on same-sex marriage to move forward. Judge Bernard Friedman says the decision to strike down DOMA last week left unanswered questions that could be addressed by this case. April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse are raising three children together; they say Michigan law violates the equal protection rights of their children. The judge called a July 10th hearing to chart the next steps in the case.

Legislation to improve legal defense for indigent Michiganders

Governor Rick Snyder signed legislation yesterday that will make changes to the state’s public defense system. The bill will create a commission to set statewide standards to ensure effective legal representation for poor defendants. The commission will also monitor counties to make sure each one is meeting those standards.

Flint EM warns possibility of bankruptcy

Flint's Emergency Manager, Ed Kurtz, warns the city could run out of money if it's forced to pay retirees full health benefits. A federal judge recently ruled Flint has to give retired workers the benefits they were promised. Kurtz says the decision hurts retirees more than it helps and that bankruptcy would mean much bigger cuts for retirees and current workers.

Stateside
2:14 pm
Thu February 28, 2013

Why Michigan veterans aren't taking advantage of benefits

Michigan seeks better use of veteran benefits
Carl Levin

  The following is a summary of a previously recorded interview. To hear the complete segment, click the audio above.

There are 670,000 veterans in Michigan — the 11th highest population of veterans in the US.

However, Michigan comes in last place (after Guam) when it comes to the amount of federal money spent per veteran. The benefits and assistance exist, but why aren't they being used?

Jason Allen is the senior deputy director for veteran affairs for Michigan's Department of Military and Veteran Affairs. He pointed to three reasons that can be attributed to Michigan's low ranking.

Read more
Politics
4:07 pm
Wed January 4, 2012

ACLU moves forward with challenge to domestic partner benefits ban

Last month, shortly after Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed a ban on healthcare benefits for the domestic partners of some public employees, the American Civil Liberties Union released a statement decrying the governor's decision and promised to "challenge the constitutionality of the law on behalf of families who will lose their health protections."

Now it looks like they are moving forward with that promise, according to a story from the Associated Press.

The AP reports that the ACLU "says it will file a lawsuit to challenge" the law and that the group "will discuss the case at a news conference Thursday in Detroit."

- John Wilson, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Politics
5:11 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

Michigan lawmakers to revisit autism coverage plan

Michigan House of Representatives.
Lester Graham Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan lawmakers plan to make another attempt at passing legislation that could prompt insurance coverage for certain autism treatments in 2012.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville said Thursday that new legislation related to autism coverage is expected early next year.

It's likely the plan will differ in some ways from previous proposals that would have mandated insurers to offer coverage for autism treatments. Those measures were opposed by business and insurance groups that say mandating coverage would raise the cost of employer-sponsored health insurance.

Supporters of an insurance mandate say it would save Michigan money in the long run while helping families with autistic children.

Previous bills that would have mandated insurance companies to offer the coverage died in the Legislature, most recently last year in the Republican-led Senate.

Politics
3:26 pm
Mon December 19, 2011

Michigan Gov. Snyder signs laws overhauling worker's comp and unemployment benefits

Governor Rick Snyder signed major changes to workers compensation and unemployment into law today.

Governor Snyder signed big changes to employer paid benefits into law this afternoon. One limits how much injured workers can be compensated (basing their pay on how much an injured worker could potentially make at another job), and another limits a person's ability to collect unemployment payments.

More from the Associated Press:

The bills would further limit the ability of a person who was fired for cause or who may have left a job voluntarily from collecting jobless benefits.

They would require some unemployed workers to take jobs after 10 weeks of benefits even if the jobs are outside the unemployed worker's previous experience or pay lower wages.

The measures also would push injured workers to seek some type of employment once they're able.

Democrats say the new laws could unfairly keep hurt or jobless workers from getting benefits. Republicans say they'll cut down on fraud.

Michigan Radio's Rick Pluta reports:

The measures will also allow Michigan to sell bonds to repay unemployment loans to the federal government. Snyder says those loans cost taxpayers almost $40 million in interest this year, and businesses $137 million in penalties.

“By doing this financing we can essentially get out of the penalties and we can lower our interest costs and be successful and give our employers a better path to create jobs, which I want to emphasize is the real point behind this,” said Snyder.

Politics
8:25 am
Thu October 20, 2011

Court rejects AG attempt to end partner benefits

A court has thrown out a lawsuit by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette. Schuette wanted to block a new policy that allows unmarried state workers to put live-in partners on their insurance plans.

The attorney general went to court after attempts by Governor Rick Snyder and Republicans in the Legislature failed to halt the new benefits for unmarried live-in partners  - which includes people in same-sex relationships.

The independent state Civil Service Commission earlier this year approved contracts with state employees that allow live-in partner benefits. The court said the commission acted within the scope of its authority when it approved the contracts. But it’s not settled that state employees will be able to continue to list domestic partners and their children as dependents on their benefits plan. The attorney general could appeal the court ruling.

A state Senate committee has also approved legislation that would ban public employers - such as the state, school districts and universities - from offering contracts that allow unmarried partner benefits.

State Legislature
7:22 am
Fri October 7, 2011

Michigan State House approves cut to lawmakers' retiree health benefits

Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Matthileo Flickr

The state House passed legislation yesterday that would eliminate retiree health care benefits for future and some current state lawmakers. The state Senate passed the measure earlier this week. The Associated Press reports:

The retiree benefit will be eliminated for lawmakers who have not served at least six years in the Legislature before Jan. 1, 2013.

Most current state senators would remain eligible for the benefit once they retire and reach age 55. Most current members of the Michigan House would be ineligible for coverage because they don't have enough years of service.

Lawmakers have debated the issue for years but didn't agree on a final version of the plan until this week.

The legislation now goes to Governor Snyder for his signature.

Read more
Politics
11:37 am
Wed October 5, 2011

Michigan Senate passes measure ending lifetime benefits for lawmakers

The Michigan Senate voted to end lifetime benefits for lawmakers.
user cedarbenddrive Flickr

The state Senate has approved a measure that would end lifetime benefits for incoming state lawmakers.

Fewer than half of current lawmakers would be exempt from the change. But all but two sitting senators would still get their retirements. No incoming lawmakers would be offered the retirement benefits.

The Detroit Free Press reports:

The Senate voted 37-1 on the measure, with Sen. Coleman Young Jr., D-Detroit, voting against the bill.

The House passed a bill that would have ended retiree health benefits for legislators who took office after Jan. 1, 2007. But the Senate version puts that date at Jan. 1, 2013.

The difference means that while some sitting legislators would have been eligible for the benefits under the House plan, many more sitting legislators will be eligible under the Senate plan.

Members of the House and Senate need only serve six years to be 100% vested in the retiree health care benefits. But members who don't have six years in by 2013, which mean members in tbe House who were elected in 2008 and 2010, and two state Senators - Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton and Vince Gregory, D-Southfield - would be ineligible for the benefits. All the rest of the Senators and third termers in the House will get the retiree health benefits.

The measure now goes back to the House for final approval.

Politics
11:04 am
Thu August 25, 2011

Local Control and Health Care

As you may know by now, the Michigan Legislature passed a bill  yesterday limiting how much local governments and schools can spend to provide health care for their employees.

The new law, which Governor Snyder is expected to sign, says local governments can contribute a maximum of fifty-five hundred dollars an employee, or fifteen thousand dollars a family.

Their only other option is to split health coverage cost with the employees, as long as the workers pay at least twenty percent.

Local governments can opt out of these requirements, but it won’t be easy. They’d have to do so by a two-thirds vote of their council or school board, and take a new vote every year.

Read more
Politics
5:05 pm
Wed August 24, 2011

Legislature approves health benefits changes

The state legislature has approved changes to some public employee health benefits.
Lester Graham Michigan Radio

The state Legislature has approved a measure that would mean higher health care costs for some teachers and local government employees.

The bill would require local governments to pay no more than 80 percent of their employee health care costs, or limit the payment to 15 thousand dollars a year per family.

Democratic state Senator Glenn Anderson called his Republican colleagues hypocrites:

“I just find it amazing that anyone that would support this bill would get up and make statements about the federal government dictating to us at the state level what we must and must not do. And yet we’re super-imposing our will on a matter that has always been a local issue.”

 The measure now heads to Governor Rick Snyder for his signature.

State Legislature
3:59 pm
Thu April 14, 2011

House effort fails to reject partner benefits

 State House Republican leaders failed to muster enough votes to reverse health benefits for the live-in partners of state employees. The new policy will treat unmarried employees with live-in partners the same as married employees, and it will apply to people in same-sex relationships. A two-thirds majority vote isrequired to reverse  the contracts approved by the state Civil Service Commission.

GOP lawmakers said the Civil Service Commission decision undermines “traditional families” and violates the intent of a voter-approved amendment that bans same-sex marriage and civil unions in Michigan.

House Speaker Jase Bolger says he is looking for other avenues to block the new policy from taking effect October first.

"I’m going to continue to explore the legality of their decision. I believe they made an end run around the constitution. I’m not an attorney, but I’m going to consult with attorneys to see if something can be done about their illegal decision,” Bolger said.

Democrats say the Legislature should not rescind agreements collectively bargained with state employee unions.

State Attorney General Bill Schuette has also been asked for an opinion on whether state employee live-in partner benefits violates Michigan’s same-sex marriage ban.