Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Amber L. Bogins
As AARP works to support Medicaid expansion in Michigan, a recent report by the Urban Institute and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation shows that more than 25,000 currently uninsured Michigan veterans and spouses would receive health coverage if Medicaid is expanded under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Currently, Michigan legislators are debating the merits of Medicaid expansion, with a decision expected in the coming weeks. Gov. Rick Snyder supports extending Medicaid to 470,000 uninsured Michigan residents.
“As we honor our veterans on this Memorial Day, we can provide much-needed help to those who have served our nation by expanding affordable health care coverage to veterans currently without health insurance,” said Jacqueline Morrison, AARP Michigan State Director. “AARP is fighting for affordable health coverage in Michigan to help veterans, as well as the 75,000 hard-working 50 to 64 year olds who are struggling without health insurance.”
The report, “Uninsured Veterans and Family Members: Who Are They and Where Do They Live?”, says there are 1.3 million veterans under age 65 uninsured in the United States, and about 40 percent of those could qualify for health coverage through Medicaid expansion.
“Our uninsured veterans’ health care coverage depends upon Medicaid expansion, and they deserve our support so they get it,” Morrison said.
Many assume that all veterans receive Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care coverage, but that’s not the case. VA care is out of reach for low-income veterans who do not live near VA facilities or are unaware that VA care is available. In addition, VA eligibility is determined by other factors including service-related disabilities and income, and many veterans make too much money to qualify for VA assistance, but not enough to afford insurance on their own. Most spouses of veterans do not qualify for VA assistance or for Medicaid under current requirements.
The need for care is particularly great for veterans who often have chronic health problems that may go untreated because they lack insurance coverage. According to the report, one-third of uninsured veterans nationally have at least one chronic health problem, over 40 percent have unmet medical needs and more than a third have delayed getting needed care because of high costs. Uninsured veterans’ families would also benefit from Medicaid expansion – the report says that more than half of those family members have unmet medical needs.
Medicaid expansion under the ACA allows states to extend coverage to individuals with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level – about $15,000 for an individual and $32,000 for a family of four. In Michigan, about 20,100 veterans are at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level, and would be eligible for Medicaid coverage if Michigan lawmakers choose expansion. Additionally, 5,700 spouses of veterans could qualify for coverage if Michigan approves Medicaid expansion.
The federal government will pay 100 percent of the cost of Medicaid expansion in Michigan for the first three years and that figure gradually moves to 90 percent thereafter, pumping significant money into the state’s economy. It will also generate significant cost savings, providing access to preventive care that veterans and their families need while reducing the need for expensive emergency room care and related overcrowding.
“Medicaid expansion would benefit many in our state, but our veterans and their families in particular deserve to get the health care they need,” Morrison said. “The truth is we’re not doing enough for our veterans, and we can help fix that by supporting Medicaid expansion in Michigan.”
In addition to supporting state veterans and their families, AARP is also fighting for Medicaid expansion in Michigan by joining a coalition that supports expansion; sending letters of support to key legislators and testifying before legislative committees; meeting with lawmakers and administration officials; sending volunteers to legislative offices; running newspaper ads; supporting Medicaid expansion on social media; sending direct mail and email to legislators and AARP activists; and working with volunteers to make calls, send emails and letters to the editor on the issue.
Last Updated on Thursday, 23 May 2013 14:26
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Amber L. Bogins
The oldest woman in the U.S. is pushing off questions about her longevity to a higher power.
When Jeralean Talley (pictured) was asked why she thinks she has lived so long, the 113-year-old from suburban Detroit lifted her arm and pointed to the sky.
“Don’t ask me,” she said. “Ask Him.”
Talley, who was born May 23, 1899, in Montrose, Ga., is the third-oldest person in the world, according to the Gerontology Research Group, which verifies age information for Guinness World Records.
She earned the title of oldest American when Elsie Thompson of Clearwater, Fla., died March 21, just weeks before her 114th birthday.
“I feel all right,” Talley told the Detroit Free Press on Tuesday in the Inkster home in which she has lived for decades.
Several of Talley’s 11 siblings lived well into their 90s, said 75-year-old Thelma Holloway, Talley’s only child.
Talley, who gave up bowling at age 104, uses a walker to get around and still plans to attend her annual fishing outing with Michael Kinloch, a friend from Wayne County’s Canton Township whom she met at church.
“Her memory is phenomenal,” he said.
Talley moved to Michigan in 1935, and her husband, Alfred, died in 1988.
Her friend, Mary Kennedy, said Talley remains alert and has a sense of humor.
“She is original,” Kennedy said. “There is nobody else like her.”
The Gerontology Research Group said the world’s two oldest people are 115 and live in Japan.
Last Updated on Thursday, 23 May 2013 14:30
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Bankole Thompson, Chronicle Senior Editor
Emergency manager takes on critics in candid interview about city’s future
KEVYN ORR, Detroit’s emergency financial manager, discusses the challenges facing Detroit while admonishing his critics to look at the facts on the city’s books. — Andre Smith photos
Kevyn Orr, Detroit’s emergency financial manager, unfazed by criticisms and mounting opposition, opens up to Michigan Chronicle editor Bankole Thompson in this exclusive sit-down interview about the difficult choices ahead for the city while sharing some of the city’s debt numbers. Orr said he is not an elected official bound to public opinion and that it is time to change course if the city is expected to make any progress. The future of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department and Detroit Mayor Dave Bing’s comments about Orr are two of the hot button issues discussed in the interview. Orr applauded Detroit’s private sector for what he calls their commitment to the city.
MICHIGAN CHRONICLE: When you came on board you talked about the fact that you have faith that good parties can come together. Do you still believe that?
KEVYN ORR: I still do. I really do and this is why I mentioned the financial operating plan. I’m going to be fully open with everything. That includes labor, debt holders, citizens, elected officials, the press. Let’s just get it all out there the best we can. Nobody really can debate the numbers. They are what they are. The math is the math. So now the next step becomes what we are going to do about it. I’m assuming rational behavior, that everybody wants to get the city to a position that is both on a sustainable path. a path for growth and a healthier going forward financial practice.
MC: Do you get a sense of a rational behavior within the various apparatus that make up city government? Because I’m sure you’ve had background conversations with all of these interested parties.
KO: I have. I think given the tools that the city’s administration and legislative body has they are trying to do the best they can with what they can do. The emergency manager statute gives me significant additional powers and tools in my toolbox that aren’t held in ordinary course by either the mayor or the city council. So looking at what the city has tried to do in the past, they are trying to run a city on a……if we continue on those lines the city just wouldn’t be functioning.
MC: Mayor Bing said recently you need to speak more to Detroiters. Was there something missing there?
KO: No, I don’t think so. I’ve tried to be open, communicative to Detroiters. As you know, the mayor’s office is seven feet from mine. I talk to him. I talk to city council. I probably talk to city council more than some other people have in this building. The mayor’s certainly welcomed to have his opinion and what he wants to say. I don’t think it’s reflective of what I try to do.
MC: What do you see as the role of the private sector in light of the Mackinac Policy Conference and Detroit’s financial crisis?
KO: This is one of the bright points in my opinion. The private sector in the city is remarkably committed to helping the city do better. And it’s not just Dan Gilbert, Roger Penske or the Fords or the Illitches; there are many others like The Skillman Foundation, Kresge and all the other groups. They have over the past (10 years) at a minimum put over a billion dollars just in foundation money into the city. That’s our entire budget. They have made commitments in a very real sense. They put their money where their mouths are. Some of these private sector individuals could take their money to Miami, Florida, New York and make a much higher return than they can here in the city. They decided against their immediate financial interest to help the city. I’m very impressed and very thankful for this amount of support and commitment to the city.
MC: Do you now feel the weight of this office in terms of the challenges that lie ahead?
KO: No, not really. I’ve actually felt more comfortable in the office as I’ve got more information, got more data. Let me put it this way: I didn’t do this. I don’t feel any responsibility for where we are.
MC: But you are the one in charge at this point.
KO: This has been coming for 40 years. From my perspective anything I do is better than where we were. Even if I tell the people the truth, just how bad the situation is. I was telling somebody the other day your water department gets 80 percent of its revenue from the suburbs. If the suburbs like Flint and Genesee who felt they are paying excessive amounts left, you wouldn’t have a water department. Is that what you want? No, I don’t think so. So I think what you want is to be responsive to your customer base, make sure you can monetize the assets so it provides revenue to the city. So if we think as in Judge Cox’s ruling about an authority, that’s a better deal for you. Maybe better than you thought you would have because you still keep the lines, the switches and valves and you get a revenue stream.
MC: What about those who are protesting claiming a water department takeover?
KO: So to the people who want to protest, I say unless you come here with a leprechaun and a pot of gold in your arm, what are you adding to the process? This is serious business.
MC: Some believe that the city is authority-fatigued. Do you think the water department needs an authority?
KO: I’m going to examine it because as I said when I first came here before I was in this office I said everything is on the table. But people maybe authority-fatigued but the reality is what we’ve been doing as a city isn’t working. So clearly we have to do something different and maintaining the course….we’ve got to change course. We don’t have a choice.
MC: What’s been the biggest surprise so far?
KO: Probably one of the biggest surprises is how little actual information I think the city population has. Once you sit down because most people want to see a better city and have a factual discussion with people, the light goes off. Rational people of good faith have that and they stand down from the emotional position because if you maintain an emotional position in the face of the truth, you’ve got something else at work other than dealing with reality. And I can’t change that.
MC: In that light are you walking a tight rope?
KO: No. As you may have noticed despite what some people may see in the press I don’t really pay attention to it. I could care less because most opinions are either informed, under-informed or have another purpose. I’m dealing with the facts and that’s what’s going to drive decision-making. Opinions and elbows everybody’s got. I’m free. I’m not a politician. Opinions matter to politicians because it translates into votes. I’m not running for anything. I don’t have any political ambitions.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 May 2013 09:47
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Amber L. Bogins
A majority of people on government food programs get their food from large grocery stores according to a new report, which means they have a wide variety of foods available. More than 82 percent of SNAP benefits (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps) are redeemed at supermarkets and superstores according to the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) Retailer Policy and Management Division 2012 Annual Report.
$74 billion in client benefits were redeemed in the more than 246,000 participating stores, farmers’ markets, direct marketing farmers, homeless meal providers, treatment centers, group homes, and others authorized to accept SNAP. Supermarkets and superstores made up about 15 percent of the firms allowed to redeem SNAP benefits but continue to redeem the majority of them. In 2012, Michigan had 10,060 authorized firms to redeem SNAP benefits, those firms redeemed nearly $3 billion dollars worth of benefits.
But despite recent criticisms by people saying the SNAP recipients waste their food stamps on high-sugar foods and drinks, The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that most food expenditures by people on SNAP are of the healthy variety. A 2005 study found that 35 percent of SNAP benefits went toward meats and meat alternatives, 20 percent went to grains, another 20 percent to fruits and vegetables, 12 percent to dairy, while only 13 percent went toward other foods. Not unlike the foods purchased by people not on the SNAP program.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 May 2013 10:13
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by C.L. Price
2013 Mackinac Policy Conference will align diverse groups in statewide conversation
Emerging from its troubled state, Michigan is poised for a seismic economic turnaround that may be right around the corner.
While some critics and pundits predicted that it would take decades to turn Detroit around and years to address Michigan’s languishing economy, there is growing optimism that the biggest issues blocking the city’s financial recovery will be addressed soon — perhaps within the next 365 days.
Timing is everything, and in a city like Detroit, time is money.
“Detroit’s biggest problems will not all be resolved overnight, but the process to get the city on the right track is on the horizon,” according to Sandy K. Baruah, president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber.
With Baruah at the helm, the Chamber, which sits squarely in the center of economic recovery efforts in Detroit, is gaining recognition for its role in helping spur an increase in regional collaboration in economic development.
There may be no better opportunity to measure the relative success of this effort than the Detroit Regional Chamber’s 2013 Mackinac Policy Conference, which draws on a diverse audience of more than 1,500 of the state’s leading political, business and community leaders annually.
This year’s conference will address cultural change, education and the 21st century global market, amidst a very diverse group of panelists and participants.
Baruah and ITC Holdings Corp. CEO and conference chair Joseph Welch plan to use the Mackinac Policy Conference as a platform to accelerate collaborative efforts statewide.
“Once isolated, our stakeholders no longer clearly identify themselves by geographic, racial or economic boundaries,” said Baruah, who has introduced innovative programs to bridge divides between Michigan leaders over the last several years.
Together, the two aim to further advance global thinking among conference participants, who they hope will emerge with a better understanding of Michigan’s role as an international player in the world marketplace, which is much “flatter,” more competitive and ever-reliant on a global consumer base.
Economic interests —employed as both a carrot and a binding agent — will serve to attract and keep conference participants aligned.
While Michigan is already home to many international automotive, furnishings and pharmaceutical manufacturers, until recently its hyper-competitive stakeholders often did not collaborate effectively or position their respective interests collectively, according to Baruah.
“Michigan is the eighth largest export state in the U.S.,” he said. “Although we hold an incredible market position, we’ve yet to fully leverage it.”
The Chamber’s MICHauto program, celebrating its second year as part of the Chamber’s economic development portfolio, is helping to change that. The successful public-private strategy is helping align automotive players to better compete and to leverage Michigan as a global epicenter of automotive and manufacturing competency.
The effort requires increased participation among Tier 1 automotive suppliers and associated businesses, which is why this year’s conference will include first-time representatives from these often silent business sectors and forums to address their unique business needs.
Immigration and education will also be on the discussion table.
Welch believes there is a need to continue to attract and retain international businesses and workers. This will be a key factor in maintaining our position in today’s global marketplace. He also supports equally, if not more aggressive, efforts to educate, train and employ Michigan residents for jobs in high growth business sectors
Logically, Detroit will be at the center of many informal conversations on the island and will be the focus of two of the scheduled conference events.
The “Detroit: On the Path to Turnaround” session features panelists Matt Cullen, president and CEO, Rock Ventures, LLC; Andy Dillon, treasurer, State of Michigan; Robert Kurnick Jr., president, Penske Corp.; and will be moderated by Sandra E. Pierce, vice chairman, FirstMerit Corporation.
The “Detroit: Legacy Leaders” panel will feature Dennis W. Archer, chairman and CEO, Dennis W. Archer PLLC, former mayor, City of Detroit; Dennis W. Archer, Jr., founding principal and president, Archer Corporate Services; Shelia Cockrel, president, Crossroads Consulting Group, former councilwoman, City of Detroit; Katy Cockrel, director, strategic communications, Ignition Media Group; John Rakolta Jr,. chairman and CEO, Walbridge; and John Rakolta III, business development manager, Walbridge. WXYZ-TV news anchor Stephen Clark will moderate the past-present-future perspectives among a multi-generational group of participants.
The city focus in these sessions, as part of a larger statewide conversation of the conference, offers an incredible opportunity to redefine our future, according to Baruah.
“Gov. Rick Snyder stepped up, despite great political risk, to tackle Detroit’s problems in a very meaningful way,” said Baruah.
The EFM appointment has helped put Detroit’s issues further into focus and will result in the opportunity to make change quickly, according to the Chamber president who commented:
“The entire state, and certainly Detroit, has suffered over the last 30 years as a consequence of being run in a process-oriented manner. Today, the EFM has the opportunity to change that and put results first.”
Results are the cornerstone of Sandy Baruah’s leadership style and, indeed, the Mackinac Policy Conference agenda.
Editor’s Note: To learn more about the 2013 Mackinac Policy Conference, gain insight on participant activity and panel discussions, visit www.michiganchronicle.com.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 May 2013 09:37
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