affordable care act | Michigan Radio
WUOMFM

affordable care act

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The effort to train people to help Michiganders navigate the new federal health insurance law is gearing up.

Starting October 1st, Michiganders will be able to use an online marketplace to choose a health care plan under the Affordable Care Act. How many plans there will be and what the plans will offer is still unclear.

But several groups are preparing to help with the process.

Don Hazaert is the executive director of Michigan Consumers for Healthcare. The group received a grant to help implement Obamacare in Michigan.

It's called many things -- the

ACA, the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare. As implementation of the law continues, so does the confusion. On today's show, we sat down and tried to make sense of it all. What will the law mean for Michigan and for you?

And, we spoke with the Detroit Bureau correspondent for the new TV network Al Jazeera America.

And, author Jim Tobin and illustrator Dave Coverly joined us to talk about their new children’s book.

And, public transportation can be confusing, especially for children. The Youth Transit Alliance in Detroit is looking to improve this. 

Also, Moo Cluck Moo, a fast food restaurant in Dearborn Heights, has stepped up and raised their starting wage to $12 an hour. The founder spoke with us about why he thinks fast food workers deserve to be paid more than minimum wage.

First on the show, President Obama is conditionally endorsing a Russian offer for international inspectors to seize and destroy chemical weapons in Syria. It's an effort to avert U.S. missile strikes.

President Obama addressed the nation last night amidst the continued erosion of support in Congress for military strikes. The President's speech drew mixed reactions from Michigan's Congressional delegation.

Todd Spangler, D.C. based reporter for the Detroit Free Press, joined us today from Washington.

chrt.org

We've been flooded with news coverage of the Medicaid expansion in Michigan, the Affordable Care Act (aka "Obamacare"), and the soon-to-be unveiled health care exchanges.

But it's all confusing and challenging, even to those who work in the field of healthcare coverage.

We wanted to see if we could get a firmer grasp on what all of this means in real world terms. Who's in, who's not? What does it mean for you, the consumer?

Marianne Udow-Phillips is the director of the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation. It's a non-profit partnership between the University of Michigan and Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Michigan. She joined us today from Ann Arbor.

Listen to the full interview above.

Adrian Clark / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

Back in June, we wrote about some changes Michiganders will see in healthcare starting this fall. That's when people who currently do not have health insurance will be able to shop for a plan online.   

But a lot can change in three months — and that’s especially true when it comes to implementing the Affordable Care Act.

Here’s an updated rundown of what’s going on with healthcare in the Great Lake State.

getoverit.org

Michiganders will begin signing up for health care coverage under the federal Affordable Care Act in one month.

But state officials are warning that scammers are already at work using Obamacare to defraud people.

Caleb Buhs is with the Department Insurance and Financial Services.   He says his department is already hearing about scammers trying to convince people they need ‘new Obamacare or Medicare’ cards.

The scammers try to get social security numbers and bank account information.

Michigan businesses are trying to get ready for changes to the health care system by the Affordable Care Act.

But there's a lot of confusion, especially for small businesses.

Jennifer Kluge with the Michigan Business and Professional Association says the new health care system will increase costs for small businesses.

"For small businesses, there's nothing affordable about health care reform," she said.

But Brett Williams with Michigan Consumers for Healthcare says it's too early to tell, but rates could decrease over time.

The astonishing hypocrisy of Medicaid opponents

Aug 29, 2013

You know by now that the Michigan Senate has finally voted to approve expanding Medicaid benefits.

The vote, which came Tuesday night after months of struggle, means that eventually nearly half a million of our citizens will have at least basic health care, people who don’t have it now.

The cost to the state itself will be nothing for three years, and only a pittance afterwards. The benefits in terms of human decency and a healthier workforce, enormous.

Those who opposed Medicaid expansion said they didn’t think we should burden future generations with another “entitlement cost.” Many of them also admitted their opposition was based on their hatred of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, which they continue to oppose even though it was passed by Congress, passed Constitutional muster with the Supreme Court, and essentially ratified by the voters in last year‘s presidential election.

I just learned something important I thought I should share with you. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as “Obamacare,” is unconstitutional after all.

Yes, I know that the United States Supreme Court, in a majority opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts, said it was constitutional, and that they have the ultimate legal authority to decide that.   But Joan Fabiano says they are wrong, and some media outlets think her views are worth repeating.

Fabiano, who is often described as a “prominent Tea Party activist,” isn‘t exactly a lawyer.

User: Brother O'Mara / Flickr

Affordable Care Act provides healthcare counselors

Low income Michigan residents will soon have help navigating their new insurance options.  According to Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody, four groups in the state, including Michigan Consumers for Healthcare, are training employees to counsel individuals on their Obamacare choices.  The Affordable Care Act goes into effect on January 1st but people will have two months to enroll.

Detroit's bankruptcy is costly

Though Detroit's creditors may never be paid back, the city's lawyers and consultants stand to make a lot of money.  The Detroit Free Press has reported that the legal fees could reach $100 million.  But Michigan Radio's Lester Graham reports that the total could eventually double that or even more.

Ford C-Max not as efficient as advertised

The Ford Motor Company has had to adjust its reported gas mileage for the C-Max after it previously overstated the figure.  Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton reports that Ford advertised a 47 mpg for the C-Max. Consumer Reports magazine tested the vehicle and reported an average 37 mpg.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Four groups have been tapped by the federal government to help low income Michiganders navigate their way through the new federally mandated health insurance market.

The new health insurance marketplace is set to open on October 1st. About a million Michiganders without insurance will have to pick among a dozen or so health plans.

To help them, the federal government has picked four groups to serve as “navigators”.

Anesthesia
user striatic / Flickr

Few things have been more politicized than the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

There’s a lot of misinformation and disinformation about the insurance program. We’re going to try to put politics aside and find out just what’s happening now and what will happen as it continues to be phased in.

Helen Levy is a professor at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, the Institute for Social Research, and the Ford School of Public Policy. Thomas Buchmueller is a health economist and professor at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.

They joined us today to talk about the insurance program.

“The goal is to reach as many as we can of the approximately 50 million people who have no health insurance. And so the way we’re trying to do that is by expanding access to individual health insurance coverage for people who could by their own coverage but don’t have an employer policy,” said Levy. “And we are also trying to target the uninsured and give them coverage by expanding the Medicaid program in some states.”

It is currently unknown as to whether or not Michigan will be one of those states.

Still not sure what the Affordable Care Act means or what it does or doesn’t do? You’re not alone. Politics aside, we took a closer look at Obamacare and what it all means for you.

And, the unseasonable cool weather in Michigan is probably good for you, but not so good for the crops. Meteorologist Mark Torregrossa joined us today to talk about what is causing it.

And, a Detroit native joined us today to tell us how he sees the city's bankruptcy as a new opportunity.

Also, the fourth annual Upper Peninsula book tour is about to begin. We spoke with a couple Michigan authors who will be participating.

First on the show, by now you’ve heard a bit about Detroit’s Chapter 9 bankruptcy filing. About half of Detroit’s nearly $20 billion in debt is due to shortfalls in the funds for retiree benefits. According to emergency manager Kevyn Orr’s estimates, the pension funds are behind by about $3.5 billion. Unfunded health care obligations are pegged at about $5.7 billion.

Detroit is not unique in its unfunded pension and retiree health care obligations. Other municipalities in the state are also behind.

Anthony Minghine is the chief operating officer of Michigan municipal league.  He joined us today.

Michigan is a net giver when it comes to dollars leaving the state in federal taxes. According to the Economist, from 1990 to 2009, $1.23 trillion went out of the state in federal taxes, while $1.03 trillion in federal spending came into the state during that time frame.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan business owners say they still need answers to how the Affordable Care Act will affect their businesses.

About 200 people attended a seminar on "Obamacare" today in East Lansing.

The federal health care law takes effect January 1st.  Businesses with more than 50 employees will have to provide health care insurance to their employees or pay a penalty.

Ed Harden is the VP of Sales for McLaren Health Plan. He says business owners have just one question for him, “How much is this going to cost?”

user cedarbenddrive / Flickr

Governor Rick Snyder’s administration is working to wrap up a deal with the Legislature this week to extend Medicaid coverage to thousands more low-income families in Michigan. Republicans remain divided on the proposal.

It took a bipartisan vote of Republicans and Democrats to get the expansion through the state House last week and it will take a similar coalition to get the bill approved this week by the state Senate.

Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

For a lot of uninsured families in Michigan, this is a big week.

Lawmakers in Lansing are sloooowly moving ahead with expanding the state’s Medicaid program.

That would give another 470,000 Michiganders coverage.

So who exactly are we talking about here?

The morning I meet Jen and Todd Nagle, we have no clue the day will end with Todd being rushed to the doctor for chest pains.

The Michigan House of Representatives in Lansing
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio file photo

State lawmakers are moving forward with a plan to expand Medicaid in Michigan after months of debate. A state House panel approved the measure yesterday, and the full House is expected to vote on it today.

Republicans on the committee were split on the legislation. Many said they were not willing to support legislation that would further entrench the federal Affordable Care Act in Michigan. 

The federal government says it’ll foot the entire bill for Medicaid expansion through 2016, and at least 90 percent after that.

Commentary: Tea Party Follies

Jun 12, 2013

Half a century ago, there was a movement very much like today's Tea Party. They believed our nation was being destroyed by a conspiracy to make this a socialist country.

They didn't like taxes and hated Medicare as much as today's Tea Party hates what they call "Obamacare."

That movement captured the Republican Party in 1964, and nominated their hero, Senator Barry Goldwater, for president.

He accepted the nomination in a speech which would make today's Tea Party activists swoon. "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice," he proclaimed, as his supporters jeered and hooted at the mainstream Republicans they despised.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan's largest nurses union is in Lansing today lobbying for Medicaid expansion.

The issue has been locked in a political debate at the state capitol for months.

John Karebian is the executive director of the Michigan Nurses Association.    He says Medicaid expansion is being “held hostage” by Republicans still angry over the passage of the Affordable Care Act.

Up to half a million Michigan residents could lose their health insurance if the legislature fails to expand Medicaid.

Low-income Michiganders covered by local health plans could lose their coverage in 2014 under the Affordable Care Act. The law was written with the assumption states would accept federal funds to expand Medicaid.

Medical diagnostic equipment
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

  More than a dozen insurance companies want to be part of a health care exchange that provides coverage to Michiganders under the new federal health care law.

Blue Cross Blue Shield, Humana, McLaren, United Healthcare and ten other insurance companies have applied to be part of the new health care exchange.

Beginning in October, Michiganders will be able to use a federally run exchange to compare the health care plans.  It’s all part of the Affordable Care Act, also known as "Obamacare," which takes effect in 2014.

It’s coming.

In just six months, the Affordable Care Act will be going into full-effect. While many changes are already in place, 2014’s the big year for the law — it’s the year when all citizens are required to get insured.

But what if you already have insurance? How will you know what subsidies you’re eligible for? And where do we find these subsidies?

Photo courtesy of the Snyder administration.

The Michigan Legislature is getting closer to approving a state spending plan.

On Wednesday, the state Senate passed a education funding bill. And after lawmakers come back from the Mackinac Policy Conference, a broader budget is slated to pass next week.

But so far, debate on proposed appropriations have been mostly divided on party lines.

One issue on the partisan divide: Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.

The federal healthcare law called for broadening health insurance coverage to low-income adults — including some 400,000 in Michigan.

Out of 30 Republican governors, only six supported the expansion. Gov. Rick Snyder was one of them.

"Expansion will create more access to primary care providers, reduce the burden on hospitals and small businesses, and save precious tax dollars,” Snyder said in a press release in February. "This makes sense for the physical and fiscal health of Michigan."

But federal funding for the expansion of Medicaid has been left out of the Republican-supported budget, running counter to Snyder’s recommendation.

A doctor with a stethoscope on a young boys naked chest (he's wearing pants though)
user Laura4Smith / Flickr

37,000 low-income Michiganders and small-business customers may be eligible for health coverage through a new health insurance cooperative, the Lansing State Journal reports.

With $72 million in federal funding, Consumers Mutual Insurance of Michigan is an alternative health care option for families and businesses looking for coverage after provisions of the Affordable Care Act go into effect January 2014.

Commentary: Snyder spread too thin?

Apr 19, 2013

There was a lot of criticism of President Obama for devoting so much time to his health care plan during his first year and a half in office. Some felt he should have also tried to get through a massive job creation plan, or a program to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure. However, he did succeed at getting what we now call “Obamacare” passed, and it is now transforming medical coverage.

User: Brother O'Mara / Flickr

House committee works on road repair plan

A state House committee is working on a $1.6 billion plan to pay for repair and maintenance on Michigan's roads.

"The plan would result in higher fuel taxes and driver fees. But it would also eliminate the six percent Michigan sales tax on fuel purchases," Rick Pluta reports.

Flint dumps contract with DWSD

"The city of Flint is dumping its contract with the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. Flint emergency manager Ed Kurtz signed a contract yesterday to get the city’s water from a new pipeline that’s being built from Lake Huron to Genesee County...A spokesman says the Detroit water department will have to look at its options  to try and recoup investments made to Flint’s water system," reports Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody.

Michigan addicts become eligible for insurance

Nearly 88,000 drug and alcohol addicts in Michigan will become eligible for insurance starting in 2014.

"Michigan health officials say the state's substance abuse care system will be able to handle the surge of people who will become eligible for alcohol and drug addiction treatment under the federal Affordable Health Care Act," the Associated Press reports.

Commentary: Sick leave

Apr 2, 2013

For as long as I can remember, the Republican Party has stood for local control. They don’t like Washington telling the states what to do. When Democrats have been in control in Lansing, they didn’t like the state meddling in local matters. Today, this continues to be true in one sense.

It’s clear that the Republicans running our legislature don’t like the federal government setting health care policy for the states. That’s why they’ve refused for two years to establish a state registry to help match Michiganders who will now need to buy health insurance with various private care providers.

Basically, those running our legislature want to pretend that the Affordable Care Act is going away soon. Never mind that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it was fully constitutional. Never mind that the last presidential election was fought largely on that issue, and President Obama was decisively reelected.

They so hate higher levels of government telling lower levels what to do, that they refused to create a health care registry, even though this means that Washington will create one for us anyway, and we will lose millions as a result.

Well, you might figure that if the Republicans believe this that strongly, they’d be against meddling with employment policies set by local units of government.  But you’d be wrong. At least, that is, when it comes to benefits for workers.

Medicaid expansion in trouble in Mich. Legislature

Mar 23, 2013
michigan.gov

Governor Rick Snyder and health advocates have their work cut out for them persuading the GOP-led Legislature to expand Medicaid coverage to hundreds of thousands more residents.

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.

A doctor with a stethoscope on a young boys naked chest (he's wearing pants though)
user Laura4Smith / Flickr

Part of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) calls for an expansion of the Medicaid program, but some state legislators and governors are resisting the expansion.

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder is NOT one of those governors resisting.

When he announced his support for the expansion last month, he said it was about being "financially responsible."

Republicans in the Michigan Legislature, however, seem to disagree.

Pages