A Legislative Analysis
Michigan Policy Expert Jack McHugh
Promotes Free Markets for Health Care
Giving credit where credit is due September 17 at the Eastside Republican Club Forum, Michigan policy expert Jack McHugh of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy said, "The governor and the current legislature did 'heavy lifting' on a number of key issues."
Among tough issues they've tackled are tax reform, freedom to work, and the Detroit financial crisis.
Yet, with Michigan's recent approval of Medicare expansion, "Michigan took a wrong turn, and is adding to the national debt," McHugh said.
McHugh set the stage by explaining, "The Mackinac Center is a private, nonpartisan research and educational institution working for over 25 years to improve the quality of life for Michigan residents by promoting free market solutions to state and local policy questions."
ObamaCare Support Declining
Turning to the Affordable Care Act, or ObamaCare as it is better known, McHugh reported, "It is not getting more popular, but less popular as time goes on."
He noted that the 50 States have two opportunities to push back. They may decline to create an insurance exchange to administer the subsidy, and they may refuse to authorize the related Medicaid expansion.
McHugh said, "ObamaCare is harmful to our health care and to the country itself!"
By electing not to launch a state insurance exchange, Michigan joined 34 other states in pushing back.
The belief of Democrats and liberals supporting the mandate is that when subsidies for people making up to four times the poverty level kick in, these voters will not want to go back, and the measure will gain support.
He explained, however, that all taxpayers with income above 240% of the poverty level would face higher insurance costs, because their subsidy will not offset higher premiums under the new federal plan.
Thus, "acceptance is a pipe dream," he said, because a significant number of voters will pay more.
Further, he noted that ObamaCare is vulnerable to legal challenges, and about 20 states have voted "no" to the Medicaid expansion.
Michigan Medicare Expansion
"The level of spin in promoting Medicaid expansion was intense," he said.
The Medicare expansion may seem appealing from one perspective. But McHugh reminded his Grosse Pointe War Memorial audience, "The cost for all this goes right on the taxpayers credit card."
Besides, he noted the expansion reduces the opportunity to repeal or revise the unpopular Affordable Care Act.
McHugh explained why the Mackinac Center has been opposed to Michigan's Medicare expansion, which was recently signed by the governor after narrowly passing in the legislature.
The Mackinac position was not because it opposed medical care for the poor, he said, but because "The poor will now get really low-rent, HMO-type coverage through managed care arrangements."
He said that the expansion was passed in the face of widespread voter disapproval.
Given that the vast majority of Republicans opposed the expansion, he asked, "Why would a Republican-dominated legislature now vote for this, especially in a term-limited environment?"
From his experience with State government, he explained that legislators yielded to pressure from their local hospitals, which stand to gain a share of Michigan's $3 billion-per-year federal taxpayer funds to pay for managed health care.
"Look for a number of current legislators to go to work for hospital systems," he predicted.
The best solution to skyrocketing medical costs, McHugh said, is the free market.
As an example, he cited the Surgery Center of Oklahoma, located in Oklahoma City, which has successfully injected market pricing into the health care system.
Prices there are publicly quoted on the internet. Rather than a complicated price structure resulting in different patients paying differing amounts for the exact same procedure, their quoted prices are the same for everyone.
Who is McHugh?
McHugh is the Mackinac Center for Public Policy's senior legislative analyst and editor of MichiganVotes.org, a unique web site that puts the activities of the Michigan legislature at citizens' fingertips. Since its launch in 2001, McHugh has written or edited concise, plain-English descriptions of every bill, vote and amendment in the state House and Senate: 12,000 bills; 10,000 roll call votes; 8,000 amendments; and 2,400 new laws. These can all be searched and sorted on MichiganVotes.org.
Prior to joining the Center, he was a floor trader in the treasury bond and gold futures "pits" of the Chicago commodity exchanges, and a writer and real estate developer. He entered the Michigan political and public policy scene in 1994, where he served six years as a legislative chief of staff in the House of Representatives.
McHugh's essays on public policy issues have appeared in The Detroit News, the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The Grand Rapids Press, and many other newspapers. He is also co-author of a book on Midwest mountain bike trails.
The Eastside Republican Club Forum is normally held on the third Tuesday of the month from September through June. Admission is free and the public is always welcome.