Michigan Healthcare Security Campaign (2008)

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Michigan Health Care Security Campaign did not appear on the November 4, 2008 statewide ballot in Michigan as an initiated constitutional amendment. The measure would have required lawmakers to ensure every resident had "comprehensive and affordable health care coverage through a fair and cost effective financing system."

If passed, Michigan residents would have been required to have access to both preventative and primary care. The only other state to pass such a mandate was Massachusetts in 2006.

Supporters abandoned their efforts on June 27, 2008. They had gathered approximately 133,000 signatures, well short of the 380,000 required by July 7 to make the ballot.[1]

Supporters

MichUHCAN, the coalition that sponsored the initiative, included AARP, Michigan Labor Groups, religious groups, Gov. Jennifer Granholm, and Lt. Gov. John Cherry.[2] MichUHCAN was a statewide network working for comprehensive universal health care through education, strategy development and advocacy.[3]

  • Frank Houston, deputy director of the campaign committee, said the initiative would push the Michigan Legislature to reform what he called a "broken health care system," but wouldn't require a specific policy. "The purpose of this initiative is to create a little more urgency to this situation," he said.[4]
  • The measure received the endorsement of several organizations representing primary care and family physicians, statewide nurses union, and medical students on April 21, 2008.[5]
  • "It's a question that needs to be put out there, whether it goes through or not," Chris Shea, executive director of Cherry Street Health Services in Grand Rapids, which supported the measure, said. "The state needs to do something to address the something like 1 million people in the state who have no health insurance now."[6]
  • Other supporters included the Green House Universal Health Care group who also pledged its support to the campaign.[7] and Healthcare for Michigan, a coalition of faith, medical, labor and civil rights organizations.[8]
  • In late April, a coalition of 200 churches joined in supporting the measure. Father Jim Shaver, St. John the Evangelist, said "People deserve, when they have worked hard and are doing as best as they can in this life, to be able to have their medical needs taken care of."[9]
  • Marjorie Mitchell, a Health Care for Michigan campaign committee member, said the committee wanted to pressure the Michigan Legislature to develop a plan, she said. The state's constitution, she said, isn't the place to draft specific legislation.[4]
  • "We don't have a specific plan that we are promoting," she said. "We are promoting a set of principles which we think makes sense in the health care reform debate for the people of Michigan."[4]
  • Michigan's AFL-CIO officially endorsed the measure during the Presidential primaries, where 2,000 volunteers passed out promotions about the initiative.[11]
  • Supporters argued that Michigan already spends $60 billion a year on health care—an average of $6,000 per citizen&#8212which could used to provide coverage for everyone.[12]

Opponents

Business groups and the Chamber of Commerce believed the proposal to be vague and too costly.

  • The Michigan Chamber of Commerce said the proposal was vague and could take years to define through court fights. "Certainly we feel the goal of the group is laudable," said Wendy Block of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce. "But we have serious questions about what is meant by 'affordable' and 'comprehensive.'"[14]
  • Attorney General Mike Cox had said that it will have the reverse of the desired effect and skyrocket health care costs. According to Cox, Blue Cross enjoys income tax exempt status, making $75 million in profit last year.[15]

State medical society takes neutral position

The Michigan Medical Society took a neutral position on this ballot measure, as well as on two other initiatives related to health care (the Stem Cell Initiative and the Coalition for Compassionate Care Initiative) at its annual delegates meeting in early May 2008.[16]

Poll results

According to a poll of 200 executives from Southeast Michigan companies and organizations, 46% of respondents would vote "no" on the proposed amendment, 27% would vote "yes," and 27% had no opinion or were undecided. The survey was conducted by John Bailey & Associates Inc. for the Detroit Regional Chamber in preparation for the chamber's upcoming Mackinac Policy Conference.[17]

Still, respondents cited the high cost of health insurance and impact of the uninsured as top health care concerns.[17]

"We're interpreting that to mean that cost is a real concern, but they're not ready to let the government decide what the cost is," said Sarah Hubbard, the chamber's vice president of government relations. The chamber has not taken a stand on the measure.[17]

Former state Rep. John Freeman, who was chairing the Health Care for Michigan campaign, said the poll results showed the need for "more education of the chamber members" on the proposal.[17]

Status

Supporters abandoned their efforts June 27, 2008. They had gathered approximately 133,000 signatures, well short of the 380,000 required by July 7 to make the ballot.[1]

See also

External links

Additional reading

References