Wednesday, July 3, 2013
Partisan split on Medicaid expansion hurts sick, needy in Michigan
The failure of state Democrats and Republicans in the Michigan Senate to compromise or even seriously discuss expanding Medicaid to another 470,000 state residents without medical coverage is inexcusable.
It is even worse that this behavior comes because elected representatives would rather go on summer vacation and turn their back on GOP Gov. Rick Snyder who has asked for them to stay in Lansing until the matter is resolved.
Representative government is one of the foundations of our nation as we approach Independence Day but the state Legislature as well as Congress has turned into fortified forts split along partisan lines holding on to narrow ideological viewpoints.
In the 237th year since the Founding Fathers had the Declaration of Independence published on July 4 it seems political leaders have learned little about the common good. Is it not a good thing to give medical care to those who do not have it because of circumstances they can't always control.
I remember a fellow criticizing those who had no jobs.
"Look at me," he said, "I lost my job but I pulled myself up by my bootstraps and found another one."
"What if someone doesn't have any legs to put boots on," I said, making him think in a way I don't think ever crossed his mind.
Oftentimes, there are legitimate barriers, both individual and societal, that make it impossible for an individual or a group of individuals -- gays, people of color and the disabled -- to achieve equal rights in American society despite the promises Jefferson made in the Declaration of Independence.
On July 3rd, meeting on a stripped-down floor with only two microphones and a few speakers set up, the Senate met and did not vote on the Medicaid expansion and reform bill.
However, some Democrats, to their credit, did so.
Shortly after Senate Majority Floor Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive, began the session, Senate Minority Floor Leader Tupac Hunter, D-Detroit, moved to discharge HB 4714 from the Senate Government Operations Committee. The motion failed mostly along party lines, but Republican Sen. Rick Jones of Grand Ledge joined Democrats in supporting that motion.
The bill would expand Medicaid eligibility to 470,000 Michigan residents, several Senate Democrats noted, and not voting on the bill only lets those citizens down. All Democrats were present, and each told stories of residents in or around their respective districts whose lives would improve with Medicaid expansion.
A total of 19 of the 26 Senate Republicans were present to hear the stories of potentially better lives for thousands.
After approving changes to the session calendar for the summer, Hunter again rose to the microphone to object to adjourning. That motion also failed, this time entirely along party lines.
We the people will never have our basic needs provided if we are disabled, elderly or impoverished unless those in power learn a bit more compassion.
Once, I asked a Canadian friend if they thought someone sick should receive the care needed.
That woman looked at me like I was not for real and said, "Of course, how could anyone think otherwise?"
Sure wish Michigan and Congressional lawmakers could have heard this woman's voice speaking what is so obvious to anyone with a heart who does not live in a world of mirrors wherein they only see their own needs and futures.