Rep. Andy Schor Speaks on the House Proposed State Budget
Rep. Schor’s Floor Speech HB 4328 on 4/24/13
I rise to oppose this omnibus budget bill today.
I am disappointed to have to do this, but this bill is not reflective of the priorities that we as a state should be pursuing.
We need to create a state will attract young talent that will remain here. To do this, we need to create great places. Yet, we are not supporting our communities. Even though Budget Director Nixon last year announced that the Great Recession is over and we are again reinvesting in our priorities, this budget give no increase whatsoever to communities after they have been cut by $5 billion over the last 12 years. And yesterday, amendments were rejected to give our communities increased funding for things like public safety.
We are not doing our best to help small businesses. Government can do its part to help create small businesses. I sat on a Smartzone Board and watched as we assisted in the creation of many small business jobs by entrepreneurs. Yet yesterday, an amendment was defeated to assist business incubators.
And perhaps the worst part of this budget is what is not in the Department of Community Health section. Currently, children in 75 of Michigan’s 83 counties receive assistance through the Healthy Kids Dental program. This is a tremendous program piloted by Delta Dental and DCH to improve the dental health of those in greatest need. The Governor proposed to expand this program to Ingham, Ottawa, and Washtenaw counties. My constituents especially appreciate the recognition of the need for expanded dental services for children here in Lansing. Yet the Governor’s recommendation was eliminated in this budget, and an amendment to restore funding for Health Kids Dental was defeated yesterday.
Finally, this budget has removed the Governor’s recommendation to accept millions of dollars from the federal government that would help half a million people get access to much-needed health care, saving taxpayers millions of dollars in uncompensated hospital care.
The issue of expanded Medicaid funding has come up for me in a variety of places recently. Coffee meetings, constituent meetings, neighborhood meetings, and others.
I tell my constituents that accepting the Expanded Medicaid dollars will help between 400,000 and 600,000 Michigan residents, many here in Lansing. These are people that have no health insurance now and must go to the emergency room when things get really bad.
I tell them it will reduce uncompensated care; that people would be able to receive preventative treatment and not be forced to use ERs. I tell them that this will save millions for taxpayers in future Medicaid expenses, including about $200 million in the first year according to the House Fiscal Agency. Additionally, HFA estimates that new federal revenue to the state would range from $1.9 billion to $2.2 billion per year over a ten-year period, for a total of over $20.5 billion. I tell my constituents that the amount saved in uncompensated care is estimated to be $300 million, which is much more than the percentage that Michigan will have to pay starting in three years in order to ensure that half a million of our residents have health care.
I also tell them that the Governor actually came up with a plan to save money now in order to pay for this when Michigan has to contribute toward expanded Medicaid costs in the future.
Then I tell them that the House of Representatives and Senate, in this budget, rejected these federal dollars, which makes us even more of a donor state, forces 400,000 residents to go without health care, and actually costs the taxpayers more in uncompensated care. This after our friends in the other chamber rejected $34 million for a Health Care Exchange and are forcing us to spend $8 million instead for a net $42 million loss to the state.
They ask me why, so I tell them what I know. I tell them one claim is fraud in the Medicaid system. They have said to me - isn’t there some potential for fraud in any government program? Isn’t there the possibility of fraud in farm subsidies? Or the dredging program getting $24 million more this year alone? Or cash given to developers directly from the government with no accountability for jobs? Why is this program any different?
I say good point. But my colleagues across the aisle have said that there is not enough capacity. Well, as my constituents remind me, that isn’t true according to the hospitals and clinics who say they have capacity and can take care of half a million more Michigan residents.
I tell my constituents that opponents say they don’t like big government programs. So my constituents remind me that Medicaid and other big government programs have been in the law since the 1960’s and have been funded regardless of which party is in charge. And by rejecting the expansion of Medicaid here in Michigan, doesn’t it just mean that other states get this funding when we don’t, which will make those states healthier and more competitive than us? I have to tell them that yes, that is all true.
Then why, they ask, are we rejecting this? The only argument I have left is opposition based on philosophical grounds. I have told my constituents that I have been looking forward to today’s debate so I can come back to them and tell them why the majority in this chamber has decided to reject funding that would help a half a million of our residents and save our taxpayers millions of dollars.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I’m disappointed that no response was provided here today and that I will have to report back that I still don’t know why my colleagues are making this choice today.
Please let me know how I can be of assistance to you so that together, we can continue to make progress in our community.
S1087 House Office Building
P.O. Box 30014
Lansing, MI 48909-7514
Phone: (517) 373-0826
Fax: (517) 373-5698
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I’m state Representative Andy Schor, and I serve Michigan’s 68th House District.
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State Representative Andy Schor
68th House District