Discussion Schedule, State Budget, Auto Insurance Changes, Hepatitis A Prevention
I am glad to write to you once more as your representative in Lansing. The Legislature has been busy this month moving the state budget forward in the legislative process. In order to represent you and your priorities, I rely on feedback from constituents. You can get in touch with me by phone at (517) 373-2577, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on my website, rabhi.housedems.com. I will keep you updated on developments in Lansing with this monthly e-newsletter. If you would like to unsubscribe, please email me at email@example.com.
I look forward to working together to move Michigan forward.
I hold two “Yousef and You” forums each month where anyone in our district can come to get an update on legislative issues, ask questions and participate in open discussion. I hope many of you will be able to join me there.
The next Yousef and You forums will be:
Saturday, June 22
Community Room, RoosRoast Coffee, 1155 Rosewood St.in Ann Arbor
Monday, July 8
Dominick’s Pizza, 812 Monroe St.in Ann Arbor (21 and over)
The Michigan House recently passed the House versions of the budget bills for Fiscal Year 2019-20. The budgets, as passed, would make a 3 percent cut across all state agencies and a 25 percent cut in funding for information technology. They fail to provide the $2.5 billion in yearly funding we need to fix our roads and bridges, and they divert funds that should go to our K-12 schools and local governments. Compared to the governor’s recommendation of a $526 million increase in total K-12 funding, schools would get just a $203 million increase. This is simply not good enough, because Michigan’s real per-pupil revenues have declined 15 percent in the last couple of decades, more than any other state. For many school districts, this level of funding will not keep pace with rising expenses. I voted against the budget bills because I do not believe they would allocate funds in the best interests of the people of Michigan.
The bills as passed last week are not the final word on the budget. The Senate has their own version of the budget bills, which differ from the House versions. Legislators from the House and the Senate will meet in a joint conference committee to resolve the differences between the House and Senate bills. The bills will also be adjusted to account for updated revenue estimates, and other changes may be made at this stage based on negotiations with the governor.
Both chambers will have to pass the same version of each budget bill to present to Gov. Whitmer. She has the option of a line-item veto on budget bills, so it is possible we will see some back-and-forth between the governor and the Legislature before the final budgets are signed into law.
We cannot continue down the path of corporate tax cuts and short-sighted disinvestment while our roads crumble and our schools struggle. As the budget process continues, I will continue to advocate for investing in the long-term wellbeing of our state. That means ensuring students and teachers in our public schools have the resources they need to excel. It also means investing in the infrastructure that people and businesses rely on — whether that’s roads or functioning state information technology systems.
Senate Bill 1 Will End Michigan’s Auto Insurance Protection as We Know It
The Legislature recently passed Senate Bill 1, which will overhaul Michigan’s auto insurance system, and the governor has signed it into law. I opposed this bill because I believe it will provide significantly worse coverage without ensuring significant cost reductions or ending the worst discriminatory practices.
Michigan’s current auto insurance system provides unique unlimited personal injury protection (PIP) for all people injured in crashes. Unfortunately, the system has become too expensive for many Michigan drivers due to the use of discriminatory billing criteria and a lack of effective rate regulation. Drivers are being billed more, sometimes many times more, due to factors unrelated to a driving record such as marital status, credit history, or place of residence. I supported a plan to end discriminatory billing and bring down overall rates by 40 percent, while preserving protections for injured people.
SB 1 will not do any of those things. The bill would allow people to opt for lower levels of personal injury protection, including no personal injury protection, in exchange for a temporary discount on the PIP portion of their insurance bill. But the PIP represents a small portion of the overall price of insurance, and industry representatives have already said that overall bills may not go down at all. Those who opt for the lowest levels of coverage will be those who can least afford large out-of-pocket medical expenses, especially because the lowest tiers are reserved for households where at least one member is on Medicare or Medicaid. The result will be poor coverage for our state’s most vulnerable people. Meanwhile, costs to Medicaid are expected to increase $70 million over time as this taxpayer-funded system takes on responsibility for people who would have previously been covered by auto insurance.
Nor will SB 1 solve the problem of discriminatory billing that afflicts some of our state’s most vulnerable residents. On the surface, it seems that the bill bans the use of discriminatory factors such as zip code and credit scores. However, insurance companies will still be able to set rates based on “territories” as small as individual neighborhoods. They will also be able to use a wide variety of information from credit products, including credit reports. The bill offers no meaningful protection against red-lining and discrimination based on non-driving factors.
I am deeply disappointed that SB 1 will bring an end to our state’s system of equal protection for all those injured in auto accidents. Michiganders deserve better. That is why I will continue to fight for a universal public health insurance system that will ensure
everyone in our state can get the care they need without bankrupting their families.
Protect Yourself from Hepatitis A
Hepatitis A is a serious, highly contagious liver disease. It is spread by eating contaminated food or water, during sex or by living with an infected person. A Hepatitis A outbreak is ongoing in Michigan and has infected 20 adults in Washtenaw County. While there are no new cases in Washtenaw, the Health Department continues to recommend good handwashing and vaccination to prevent infection. Hand sanitizer does not kill the Hepatitis A virus.
Vaccination can prevent Hepatitis A infection. Two doses of the Hepatitis A vaccine have been part of the standard CDC-recommended vaccination schedule for children since 2006. Adult vaccination is particularly recommended for:
- Food service workers
- Healthcare workers and first responders
- Travelers to areas with poor sanitation
- Men who have sex with men
- People with a history of substance abuse
- People currently homeless or in transient living
- People in correctional facilities
- People with underlying liver disease
- Anyone who may have been exposed to Hepatitis A
Residents who are uninsured, have Medicaid, or are at higher risk of exposure can get a free Hepatitis A vaccination from the Health Department. There will be a vaccination clinic at Miller Manor July 23 from 1-2 p.m. Vaccination is also available at the Health Department in Ypsilanti. Call (734) 544-6700 to schedule. If you have health insurance, please contact your health care provider to schedule vaccination.
Across Michigan, there have been 914 cases of Hepatitis A associated with the current outbreak as of June 5, 2019. Among these cases, there have been 734 hospitalizations and 28 deaths. To learn more, visit www.washtenaw.org/StopHepA.