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Michigan Lawmakers are back in session

State capitol
Lester Graham
Michigan Radio
The legislature will vote on changes to health care benefits for public employees tomorrow.

After a two week recess state lawmakers are back in Lansing. Here is a quick look into what ­­­ exactly the Legislature will be focusing on now that they are back in session.

This session will mark the return of the controversial no fault auto insurance policy.

Republican lawmakers, including Governor Rick Snyder, want to place a cap on benefits for individuals who receive serious injuries in auto accidents.

Michigan is the only state that provides unlimited health benefits to those who have suffered serious injuries. 

Republicans and insurance companies argue that is why insurance rates are so high in Michigan. Republicans have mentioned that the possible cap could be around $50,000.

Changing this policy has stalled regularly in the Legislature in the past.

Opponents argue that the cost of fixing vehicles after collisions is not being considered as a part of the reason costs are so high.

They say medical costs are being overstated as the cause of  higher premiums.

We will also hear arguments about insurance company profits and fees as well as redlining, which is the raising of insurance costs in for different cities.

There will also be a big debate on the expansion of the Medicaid program that is a part of the Affordable Care Act in this session of the Legislature.

Governor Snyder and some business groups have said this is a bargain for the state and for taxpayers.

They state people will be able to get healthcare sooner, rather than waiting to go to the emergency room. This means healthier people, preventive care, and less expensive treatments.

This will lessen the burden of uncompensated healthcare that ultimately is paid by tax payers, businesses and those with health coverage.

A lot of Republicans are not on board with the plan, they have pledged non-cooperation with the health care law.

Some lawmakers have even stated they do not trust the federal government to keep their end of the bargain, even though the government has never fallen back on such a deal.  

Snyder has promised to bank some of the money saved to address this possibility.

It will also be up to the Governor to negotiate enough reforms in the Medicaid law so it is palatable for enough Republicans to vote for it.

Yesterday, House Democrats released their budget plan for this session. Their agenda is seen as more of a “what would we do if we were in charge”.

Major goals of their plan include spending more money for schools, less spending money on tax breaks for businesses and rolling back the tax on pensions, which some Republicans also support.

It will also be used as a counterpoint to whatever Republicans propose this year and is geared towards persuading voters come next year’s election.

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