healthcare

As you may know, the federal government has offered to expand Medicaid coverage to families whose incomes are less than one hundred and thirty three percent of the poverty level.

If you wonder how much money that is, I looked it up for you – slightly less than $26,000 a year for a family of three. The answer to the question: How do you support three people on that and afford health insurance? is that you don’t.

If Michigan accepts, an estimated 320,000 people who now have no health insurance would be immediately covered. That would rise to nearly half a million people within a few years. The cost to the state government would initially be zero.

After the year 2020, Michigan would have to pay 10 percent of the cost. This would still, health care experts say, be a mere fraction of what all these uninsured people currently cost the state.

Senate Bill 136 would allow health care providers, facilities and insurance providers to deny service based on religious, moral or ethical objections. State Senator John Moolenar, a Republican representing Michigan’s 36th District is the bill’s sponsor. He spoke with Jennifer White earlier this week.

Listen to full interview above.

Flatbush Gardener / Flickr

Modern medicine is full of innovation.

It can extend life in ways once thought impossible, but those breakthroughs come at great cost and potential risk.

Dr. Fitz Blake believes the future of medicine lies in returning to the core of the doctor-patient relationship.

Dr. Blake is a Michigan physician well versed in the fast pace of the emergency room.

He’s shocked people back to life, set broken bones, and stabilized gunshot victims.  Blake is imposing.  He’s built like a linebacker, and speaks in a deep baritone voice.  
 
He says his traditional medical training taught him and other doctors like him how to identify disease, do procedures, and select the right medicines.  But he’s troubled by what current medical training doesn’t seem to emphasize as much, it’s what health policy experts refer to as “patient centered care.”

Flatbush Gardener / Flickr

Palliative care is a medical specialty designed to relieve patient suffering by focusing on the needs of the whole person.  Many people think palliative care is like hospice care, but palliative care is not just for the dying.  

Rose Mark is 82 years old and lives in a retirement community. She moved into the retirement community about ten years ago, right after her husband died.  It's close to her oldest daughter, Gloria, and her grandchildren. 

A state House subcommittee has stripped a provision from a budget bill to expand Michigan’s Medicaid program.

The money to add more than 400 thousand people to Medicaid would come from the federal government under the new national healthcare law.

Some Republicans say they don’t trust Washington to keep that promise or that they want to see some changes to Medicaid before they’ll support it.

Roger Martin is the spokesman for a coalition of businesses and healthcare providers that supports the expansion. He says concerns that the federal government will eventually cut off the money is unfounded.

“I can’t name one instance where the federal government has made a promise in law, that was affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court, the Congress and the president had, and then pulled the plug on. I can’t name one. So basically I think it’s a Trojan horse argument.”

Governor Rick Snyder says he expects the Legislature will ultimately accept federal money to expand Michigan’s Medicaid program

“This is just a part of the legislative process. There are usually some challenges. But, again, the track record’s good about overcoming barriers. Do you get everything you want? Not necessarily, but you work hard and achieve the goals that really count – relentless positive action.”

Governor Rick Snyder called for the Medicaid expansion in his new budget proposal. He considers the subcommittee action a temporary setback.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A state Senate committee took testimony Thursday on a bill that would allow doctors, nurses and other health care providers to opt out of providing medical care if they feel it violates their personal or religious beliefs.

The legislation could affect patients seeking a variety of treatments, including approval for medical marijuana or a prescription for the ‘morning after’ pill.

Tim Schultz is the legislative policy director of the group, American Religious Freedom. He says the legislation respects an individual’s ‘conscience’.

FreedomWorks

The Affordable Care Act requires that for those Americans who can afford it, they must carry some form of health insurance starting on January 1st, 2014 or pay a fee.

Online 'health care exchanges' will be set up to help people buy health insurance who can't access it through an employer. If the states don't set up an exchange, the federal government will.

Gov. Snyder wanted legislators to set up a state-run exchange last year, but Republican legislators refused to vote on it, hoping the federal health care law would be overturned.

That didn't happen and the timeline for a state run exchange has passed.

Now some state Republicans are reluctantly voting in favor of a setting up a federal-state run exchange.

State capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

A bill to set up a healthcare exchange in Michigan has passed its first hurdle in the state Legislature. A House panel today voted to accept more than $30 million from Washington to set up the exchange.

It would be a partnership between the state and the federal government under the Affordable Care Act.

House Appropriations Chair Joe Haveman says the alternative would be a federal exchange with no state control.

“Although it may appear like it was a step in the wrong direction or endorsing Obamacare, this was the conservative vote. The other vote was the liberal vote to say ‘we want the federal government to take us over.’”

Governor Rick Snyder wanted an exchange run entirely by the state. But lawmakers did not act in time, and that’s now off the table.

The bill now goes to the floor of the state House.

On today's show, troubling headlines have been coming out of Grand Rapids in recent  months a burst of violent crime. Today we take a look at what can be done to curb the violence.

And we turn an eye to medical care: just how can we fix inequality in access to health care in Michigan.

But to start things off... he has been an assistant Wayne County prosecutor, the deputy Wayne County executive under Edward McNamara. He was the CEO of the Detroit Medical Center.Today, Mike Duggan’s is making it official, he wants to be Detroit’s next mayor.

To take a closer look at the Duggan candidacy, we spoke with Rocelle Riley of the Detroit Free Press.

Adrian Clark / Flickr

The lame duck session in the Michigan legislature has been the most active in recent memory. While so-called "right-to-work legislation, signed by Governor Snyder, has gotten the most attention there are a number of other controversial bills working their way through the legislature. They include a bill that would allow health care providers, facilities, or insurers deny service based on religious, moral or ethical objections. The providers would have to provide service in emergency situations. I talked with Peter Jacobson, Professor of Health Law and Policy at the University of Michigan School of Public Health.

user clarita / morguefile

Many Republicans in the Michigan Legislature want to allow health care providers, or insurers to deny service to patients based on religious, moral or ethical objections.

The "Religious Liberty and Conscience Protection Act" passed the state Senate last Thursday during the tumultuous 'right-to-work' debate.

Now a House Committee has approved the bill, which will allow it to go before the full House. The Michigan House could vote on the measure today, which would send it to Gov. Snyder's desk.

More from the Detroit Free Press:

On a straight party-line vote, the state House insurance committee voted Wednesday to approve a bill that would allow health care providers and facilities to refuse service based on a moral objection, religious reasons or matters of conscience.
The bill now moves to the full House, where it could be considered as early as this afternoon and, if approved, would move to Gov. Rick Snyder for his signature.

photo by Anna Strumillo Phuket - Thailand / www.fotopedia.com

A lot of Michigan seniors are not happy with some of the proposed changes to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

The legislature is overhauling Blue Cross, changing it from a charity to a state-tax paying business.

But some seniors say it could make their healthcare bills skyrocket, or even take away some of their health insurance plans all together.

Now, if your brain is starting to hurt at this point, don’t worry:  contrary to popular belief, you do not have to be a rocket scientist to understand this healthcare change stuff. Promise.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Three right-to-work bills approved

Three right-to-work bills moved forward at the state capitol Thursday. The bills would prohibit unions from collecting fees from nonunion workers. The Michigan House voted to approve right-to-work legislation (HB 4054) for private-sector workers. The Senate passed two right-to-work bills. A measure dealing with private-sector workers (SB 116) passed on a 22-16 vote Thursday after hours of impassioned debate. Moments after it passed, the Senate passed a bill (HB 4003) with similar provisions for government employees. Democrats walked out before the bill was approved on a 22-4 vote. To clarify where these bills came from, the Lansing State Journal reports,

According to legislative records, HB 4054 had been dormant since it was introduced in January 2011, until it was suddenly reported out of committee on Wednesday. SB 116 also had no action since February 2011 before it was brought forward Thursday. House Bill 4003, which the Senate also took up, had had no action for one year prior to Thursday. today.

In other lame duck news. . .

EMERGENCY MANAGER LAW GOES TO HOUSE

"A Michigan House panel has moved a replacement to the state’s Emergency Manager law to the House floor. Voters rejected Public Act Four last month. The replacement would give local governments and school districts more options. They could request an emergency manager. They could reach a consent agreement with the state. They could agree to mediation to construct a recovery plan. Or they could file for municipal bankruptcy," Jake Neher reports

ABORTION BILLS PASS IN SENATE

"The state Senate has passed a bill that bans insurance companies in Michigan from providing coverage for elective abortions. The Senate also approved another bill  to require clinics that do abortions to be licensed as outpatient surgical centers. Both bills now move to the House," Tracy Samilton reports

BILL TO DENY HEALTH COVERAGE FOR RELIGIOUS REASONS PASSES IN SENATE

"A bill in the state Legislature would let health care providers, facilities, or insurers deny service based on religious, moral or ethical objections. The state Senate passed the bill Thursday. The measure would not apply to emergency situations, and providers would have to let patients know where they can go for treatment. It now goes to the state House," Jake Neher reports.

user clarita / morguefile

A bill in the state Legislature would let health care providers, facilities, or insurers deny service based on religious, moral or ethical objections. The state Senate passed the bill Thursday.

Republican state Senator John Moolenaar is sponsoring the bill.   

“This legislation before you today will establish a solid, yet workable framework for protecting the fundamental rights for all Michigan citizens,” Moolenaar said.

Critics of the bill say it would let entire health systems deny care.

User: mconnors / MorgueFile.com

A federal grant will put more primary care providers in medically-underserved areas of southeast Michigan.

The $21 million grant will help train medical residents in five federally-qualified health centers.

The program is a partnership between Michigan State University’s medical school and the Detroit-Wayne County Health Authority.

Chris Allen is CEO of the Health Authority. He says it will add much-needed primary care doctors to the medical safety net.

“And it ultimately will provide medical homes for the people who live in these areas, and thus not a reliance on the emergency room for their care," he said.

Allen says residents who participate in the program will be eligible for medical school loan forgiveness.

The plan is to train 85 residents over three years, starting next summer. Allen says after learning the practice in southeast Michigan residencies, the new doctors will stay in the area.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Bill would ease restrictions for concealed pistol permits

"The state House is considering a bill that would remove a state background check requirement for  concealed pistol permits. The bill would eliminate state background checks for people who want to carry concealed pistols.  The bill would also eliminate a data base of Michigan's pistol owners, which State Police say is used to help solve crimes. If the bill passes, it would also put county sheriffs in control of the permit process, rather than county boards," Rina Miller reports.

Legislation would allow insurance companies to deny medical marijuana coverage

"Bills in the state House would let insurance companies deny coverage for medical marijuana. Employers could also refuse to reimburse medical marijuana expenses through workers compensation. Opponents of the bills say the policy would keep some patients from receiving proper and legal medical treatment. But some medical marijuana advocates support the measures. They say when Michigan voters approved the drug, they never meant to force insurers to cover it. The state Senate voted overwhelmingly to pass the bills in May," Jake Neher reports.

Bill would allow medical personnel to refuse care on religious grounds

"A bill before the state senate would allow medical personnel to refuse care based on their religious beliefs. The bill would also protect them against civil, criminal, and administrative liability. However, the bill would require medical personnel to provide medical care in an emergency, regardless of a conflict with their religious beliefs," Chris Zollars reports.

MichigaMichigan Gov. Rick Snyder at a Univ. of Michigan basketball game.n Gov. Snyder gets cagey on subject of weight loss.
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Governor Rick Snyder is "staying positive" about the failed effort to set up a state-run health insurance exchange.

Under the national health care law, states can set up web sites where people can shop for insurance plans.

States that don’t will have to use whatever the federal government sets up.

Snyder wanted Michigan to set up its own exchange, but the effort died in the Republican-led state house. So I asked him…

"Are you bummed at all about the health care exchange at all?"

"I don’t get bummed about much, I’m a positive guy."

Snyder says he knew the state-run exchange might not have gotten set up in time to meet federal deadlines.

That doesn’t mean that we can’t come back and say here’s a whole series of reasons that really have value and bring it up again.

In the meantime, Snyder wants to cooperate with the federal government.

Adrian Clark / Flickr

Beaumont and Henry Ford Health systems announced plans today to merge into one non-profit health care system.

It’s a blockbuster move that pairs two of southeast Michigan’s three largest health systems.

What this election means for low-income families

Oct 31, 2012
Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

After months of political rancor and over $2 billion raised, the 2012 presidential race is almost over. Yet with only six days left until Election Day, both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have largely ignored the issue of poverty.

Michigan voters next month are going to be asked to decide the fate of five proposed amendments to the state constitution, plus whether they want to keep the Emergency Manager law. Some of the amendments have gotten a lot of publicity, like the one that would require a statewide vote before any new bridge could be constructed.

The amendment that would guarantee collective bargaining rights is getting attention, as is the one that would require utilities to get 25 percent of their energy from renewable sources.

Blue Cross Blue Shield would undergo major changes under proposed legislation.
Wikipedia

State Senate hearings began today on a proposed overhaul of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

The plan calls for Blue Cross to become a customer-owned not-for-profit corporation that’s regulated just like other insurance companies.

Right now, Blue Cross has to accept all applicants, regardless of their health. Starting in 2014, the Blues’ role as “insurer of last resort” will become unnecessary. Due to the federal healthcare law, insurance companies will no longer be able to reject people because of their health conditions.

Health insurance is such a political issue, talked about all the time and so dispassionately, that it can be easy to forget just how important it is to some families. But, last year the Census estimated paying for health care pushed at least 10 million Americans into poverty.

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Michigan is out of time to create its own health care exchange, according to Gov. Rick Snyder's office.


The federal health care law requires that states set up a website to assist residents when purchasing health insurance. The online exchange would be designed to help individuals and small businesses comparison shop for insurance policies.


November 16 is the deadline for state governments to show how they intend to operate these exchanges in 2014.

The Michigan Senate passed legislation today establishing a system of veterans' courts.
cedarbenddrive / Flickr

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The Michigan Senate has approved a compromise bill that would end state-provided health coverage in retirement for new public school employees and require current workers to pay more for their pensions.

The measure passed Wednesday includes further study of a plan sought by some in the Republican majority to push new hires into a 401 (k)-style plan.

State officials say the proposal reduces by at least $15 billion a roughly $45 billion liability on the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System. That comes partly from the state putting $130 million toward retirement costs that school districts are facing.

A version of the bill was previously passed by the House. That chamber is expected to approve the Senate measure.

The legislation would then head to Gov. Rick Snyder for his signature.

Medicare is cracking down on hospital readmissions in a way that is going to hurt the bottom line of facilities in most parts of the nation.

Obesity rates in the U.S. States in orange have obesity rates of 30 percent or more.
Trust for America's Health

According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Trust for America's Health, the states with the top five obesity rates are:

  1. Mississippi - 34.9 percent
  2. Louisiana - 33.4 percent
  3. West Virginia - 32.4 percent
  4. Alabama - 32.0 percent
  5. Michigan - 31.3 percent

The rates reflect the percent of the population with a body mass index of 30 or higher. Body mass index is a calculation based on weight and height ratios. You can find your body mass index here.

The rates in the report were based on CDC data (part of the 2011 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey).

The top five "skinniest" states?

  1. Colorado - 20.7 percent
  2. Hawaii - 21.8 percent
  3. Massachusetts 22.7 percent
  4. New Jersey 23.7 percent
  5. California - 23.8 percent

From the group's issue brief:

 “Obesity has contributed to a stunning rise in chronic disease rates and health care costs. It is one of the biggest health crises the country has ever faced,” said Jeffrey Levi, PhD, TFAH executive director. “The good news is that we have a growing body of evidence and approaches that we know can help reduce obesity, improve nutrition and increase physical activity based on making healthier choices easier for Americans. The bad news is we’re not investing anywhere near what we need to in order to bend the obesity curve and see the returns in terms of health and savings.”

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder gave a policy speech last fall about the state's struggle with obesity saying "too many Michiganders smoke, are overweight, and don’t exercise." In that speech he called Michigan's health care system "broken." He also set a personal weight reduction goal for himself in the speech - something he's still working on.

Last year the state ranked 10th in the nation in obesity. The Trust for America's Health notes year to year comparisons are difficult because of changes in the CDC's methodology.

MichigaMichigan Gov. Rick Snyder at a Univ. of Michigan basketball game.n Gov. Snyder gets cagey on subject of weight loss.
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For a Governor who creates online "dashboards" to measure goals he has set for the state, he gets a little evasive when it comes to one of his goals.

Last fall, Mr. Snyder called Michigan's system of health care "a broken system."

He said too many people in the state smoke, are overweight, and don't exercise.

To set a good example, Snyder said his goal was to lose 10 pounds by the end of the year.

Some time has passed since that speech, but I thought we should check in on the goal. Michigan Radio reporter Lindsey Smith sat down with Governor Snyder yesterday and put the question to him.

Here's his answer:

"I've lost some, but not enough," said Snyder. When Smith pushed for "poundage," Snyder wouldn't give it up.

It looks like his weight goal has gone the same way as another goal he set for the state in that speech last fall. He asked the legislature to set up a state health care exchange under the federal health care law: so far, this goal is out of his control.

The University of Michigan Health System will house a new center for HIV research.
UM

U.S. News & World Report has identified 34 high-performing hospitals in Michigan out of more than 175 hospitals statewide. The rankings were released earlier this week.

Regional rankings around the country are based on how hospitals compare nationally in 16 medical specialties.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A hearing is scheduled in Lansing on Wednesday on a package of bills that would prevent some patients from suing doctors for malpractice.

The hearing is 8 a.m. before the state Senate Insurance Committee in Lansing.

Leaders of the 16,000-member Michigan State Medical Society say the Patients First Reform Package closes a legal loophole that allows unnecessary suits to be filed and prevents trial lawyers from artificially inflating awards.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The Michigan Senate is expected to vote on legislation that would end state-provided health care coverage in retirement for new public school hires and require current employees to pay more toward pensions.

The Wednesday legislative session is the only one scheduled for July. The Senate is expected to take up the bill passed last month by the House.

The bill doesn't contain earlier language that would force new teachers into a 401 (k)-style plan. The measure calls for studying how ending the pensions would affect the state.

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