Improving Health Care in Michigan
I believe that health care is a human right and that universal health care would enhance public health and the economic well-being of our state and nation. Local governments, major corporations and small business all struggle to afford health care for their workers, suppressing employment and incurring staggering and unfunded post-employment obligations for retirees. The lack of a universal system also creates incentives for insurance companies to game the system by attracting the best customers with low rates, and then foisting those same customers into our state’s insurer of last resort when the customer gets older or sicker.
Although our system doesn’t provide universal coverage, we have all of the costs and concerns of universal health care without any of the benefits of extending preventative care to the whole population. When our uninsured residents get very sick, they arrive at the emergency room receiving the most expensive solutions; bankrupting the system and the families for whom the system fails.
Having said all of that, Congress just passed and President Obama just signed a historic new law that will extend coverage to almost everybody. Our state legislators will, over the coming years, have the opportunity and the responsibility to roll out those changes in Michigan. My goal, as your Representative, will be to maximize the benefits of the federal health care reform by: expanding access to preventative care; ensuring that seniors receive high-quality care that is tailored to their needs; enhancing protections for consumers of health care services; and, evening the playing field for all insurers operating in our state.
As your state representative, I will fight for the following proposals:
- Catastrophic claims are a huge burden to the insurance system. If all catastrophic claims above $25K annually were handled out of a pool, shared by all insurers, then consumers would be protected from insurance companies dropping their coverage when catastrophic conditions arise. Also, insurance companies would have less incentive to deny coverage to individuals who are more likely to get very sick (foisting those residents into subsidized plans). This practice would protect consumers and reduce the volatility of health care costs for insurers and the insured.
- Senior citizens should have access to high-quality in-home care. For some senior citizens, living in an independent setting – especially their own home – is the most desirable choice. As your representative, I will fight to give senior citizens more options for selecting in-home care that meets their lifestyle and health care needs. Also, I will support legislation such as the Elder Financial Protection Plan that protects seniors from elder abuse. Protecting seniors from neglect, financial predators and poor health care services is an essential element of public safety.
- We all know that healthy food is a core component of wellness. Universal access to fresh, healthy and local food should be a goal of our state government. After all, Michigan has a diverse and successful agricultural sector; and, local food is healthier and tastier. We grow and raise all of the necessary elements of a healthy diet right here in Michigan. Our state must do a better job of supporting farmers’ markets, community supported agriculture and local food by making food stamps easily redeemable at all farmers’ markets. Also, the state should help food stamp recipients buy healthy, local food by encouraging convenience stores to carry fresh foods. In addition, many state institutions such as universities, prisons and schools should be required to buy local when possible. With the proper partnerships, the tax dollars these institutions spend could be directed towards better serving Michigan’s farmers, our taste-buds and our health.
- Michigan voters overwhelmingly supported ballot language intended to make medical marijuana available to citizens with documented ailments. Since going into effect, thousands of Michiganians have sought relief from the effects of chemotherapy, multiple sclerosis, and chronic illnesses. As your representative, I will fight efforts to curtail the rights of Michigan citizens and I will oppose proposals to direct any public safety resources towards prosecuting lawful utilization of medical marijuana.
- Health care professionals are in great demand and the coming shortages of nurses and primary care physicians are important trends to monitor in the health care environment. Of course, Michigan would be wise to assist our citizens by investing in colleges and universities that provide the necessary training to land good jobs in health care. Another way that Michigan can improve care and save money is to institute staffing ratios that ensure higher quality patient care1. Higher standards result in better care, which in turn leads to lower overall costs. As your Representative, I will fight to invest in the front line services that really make a difference to the lives of our residents.
- Michigan can and should do a better job of passing laws and appropriating resources to support medical research at our Universities. Specifically, Michigan should save lives and expand economic opportunity by aggressively supporting stem-cell research.