Candidates hear concerns of constituents on jobs, healthcare, immigration
Many of the leading candidates in the race to fill John Conyers Jr.’s seat in the US house heard from the people they seek to represent Saturday in a candidate forum held Detroit’s New Providence Baptist Church. Detroit City Council president, Brenda Jones, mayor of Westland Bill Wild and state senator Coleman Young Jr. answered questions from constituents about the issues they deal with every day. State senator Ian Conyers and former state representative, Rashida Tlaib were also invited but couldn’t appear due to scheduling conflicts.
Paul Johnson III of the Disability Network of Wayne County wanted to know who supported a public program for elder care that would guarantee seniors access to quality, affordable long-term care. “I am lifelong Detroiter who has learned the value of assisting others from his Parents.” Johnson told the candidates. “I have had to overcome learning disabilities always treating customer, friends and all others with compassion. “
A teacher in Detroit bravely told the story of how she had been impacted by sexual harassment. Gevonchai Hudnall said a man who had power over her made sexually suggestive comments at work, making her feel deeply uncomfortable, embarrassed, intimidated, and afraid for her job. She challenged the candidates to stand up for survivors of sexual assault on campus. “ I am glad we are now living in the #MeToo moment, and we are seeing an important shift in our culture.” Hudnall said. “Sexual harassment and assault must no longer be tolerated. Campuses are one place where we must continue to fight and ensure that students are safe.”
Rokhyatou Toure (ROCK-key-ah-too too-RAY), a member of African Bureau for Immigration and Social Affairs (ABISA), came to protect what remains of her family after aggressive immigration enforcement that took her father, Katim last month despite having lived peacefully in Michigan for 29 years. “If elected, we expect one of you to be a champion for immigrant communities and refugees.” Toure told the candidates. “ It is time for a Compassionate Immigration Reform, that focuses, ONLY in legalization and the reunification of separated families, NOT one more dollar for deportations. Our loved ones are being stolen away from us and deported, simply for driving to work, or for showing up to their court appointments. Immigration authorities don’t even care if the spouse or children are American citizens.”
Since no Republicans have been nominated to run in the 13th district this year, whoever wins the Democratic primary on August 7th will be unopposed in the general election in November.
The People’s Lobby Day is a day of direct action and participatory democracy. Residents with shared concerns form into teams to confront lawmakers with issues of Criminal Justice Reform, The Long Term Care Study Bill (HB4674), Universal Family Care, Medicare for All, Water for Flint, and Immigration.
A rally will be held in the city hall plaza at 12:30 PM when participants in The People’s Lobby Day will welcome pilgrimages for immigrant families that walked from Detroit and Kalamazoo to the capitol.
A 90-mile “Pilgrimage to Keep Families Together” kicked of in Detroit on Monday, May 14th, from the church where Ded Rranxburgaj (RAHNS-bur-guy) has sought sanctuary from deportation.He is the sole caretaker for his wife Flora, who has multiple sclerosis and uses a wheelchair for mobility. The First Congregational church in Kalamazoo has been walking for Saheeda Perveen Nadeem who has been taking sanctuary in their church. If deported, Saheeda would return to a country where she would face the threat of violence with no family support.
The Rally will conclude with the announcement of a planned direct action to address the Flint Water Crisis. In years past, members have occupied the Governor’s building, the office of the speaker of the house and formed a bucket brigade carrying water out of the Capitol building. This year’s action will address the shutdown of bottled water distribution pods.
State Rep. Jon Hoadley (D-Kalamazoo) and State Sen. Margaret O’Brien (R-Kalamazoo) were announced as Care Champion awardees by Caring Across Generations, a national care giving advocacy campaign.
Rep. Hoadley was recognized for being the chief sponsor of the Long-Term Care Study Bill (HB 4674) which would do a rigorous needs assessment of long-term care in Michigan, so that we have the research necessary to make informed decisions around long-term care in a state whose population is aging rapidly. The bill has bipartisan support and over forty co-sponsors, including Rep. Hoadley, who gave testimony on it during a hearing in the Health Policy Committee in the fall of 2017.
Senator O’Brien was recognized due to her support for in-home caregivers and families providing care, such as care for children, elderly parents or disabled family members. In particular, her bill, SB 749, passed in the Senate in 2018 to allow, beginning in tax year 2018, a Michigan income tax credit for dependent care that mirrors the one offered at the federal level.
“More and more families are struggling with how to care for our loved ones while making ends meet, but our policies are lagging far behind the reality of what Americans need,” said Ai-jen Poo, co-director of Caring Across Generations. “Luckily, we have care champions like Rep. Hoadley and Senator O’Brien, who are showing us what is possible when principled leadership is coupled with bold policy solutions. We need more elected officials like Rep. Hoadley and Senator O’Brien to call for making our care infrastructure strong enough for the 21st century.”
“For years, Rep. Hoadley and Senator O-Brien have been legislators we can count on to support the Caring Majority. We’re pleased to be able to honor Rep. Hoadley and Senator O’Brien for their work, and look forward to continuing to work together to ensure that all of us who need care and all of us who provide that care get the support we need,” said Ryan Bates, Executive Director of Michigan United, a partner of Caring Across Generations in Michigan.
“I am excited and honored to accept this award on behalf of all of the folks who are doing work to protect the Caring Majority,” says Rep. Hoadley. “The Long-Term Care Study Bill is both the right thing to do for our citizens and taxpayers of Michigan. I hope we can continue to build momentum to sign this bill into law.”
Candidates challenged with issues by the people they affect
Thousands of people from across Michigan packed the sanctuary of Detroit’s Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church Saturday to hear from four of the candidates vying to lead the state in 2018. Democrats Bill Cobbs, Abdul El-Sayed, Gretchen Whitmer were joined by Republican Patrick Colbeck on stage to explain their positions on criminal justice reform, environmental justice, education, care, immigration and workers rightsat the event co-sponsored by more than 70 community organizations.
The People’s Governor Forum: Transforming Michigan’s Future was moderated by Rev. Dee Dee Coleman, President of the Baptist Pastors Council of Detroit and Vicinity,and Detroit Free Press journalist Niraj Warikoo. But as important as the answers they gave were the people who posed the questions.
WENDY KYLES of Detroit asked “What will you do as Governor to reduce air pollution in overburdened communities, like mine, and throughout our state?” Kyles, who lives in the 48217 zip code, suffers from the worst air quality in the state due to the nearby Marathon oil refinery. Her mother died from emphysema even though never smoked a cigarette in her life.
Arthur Howard is a returning citizen who is working hard to be a productive member of the community. He pointed out that Michigan has seen a reduction in spending on post-release services in the past few years while states like California and Colorado are instead are investing in programs like prison diversion and community enrichment to help the formerly incarcerated get on the right path. “These programs pay for themselves because keeping someone out of prison saves a lot of money.” He wanted to know which candidates would consider a similar model in Michigan.
Jason Hackney is a teacher at one of Michigan’s 300 charter schools, 75% of which are “for-profit”. Michigan has also dropped to the bottom ten of states for education in the nation. An estimated $1 billion of Michigan tax money goes into these charters with no transparency, and for results that are no better than public schools. “A people’s governor should not treat Michigan students as commodities that can make the most profit for a management company and the authorizer.” Hackney said. He wanted to know How each of the candidates would address the problem of fully funding our schools, holding authorizers and management companies accountable, and where do you stand on the privatization of our education system?
62 coalition partners announce non-partisan forum for March 3rd in Detroit Will feature special guest Congressman Luis Gutierrez
An unprecedented coalition of more than 60 organizations so far has announced they will hold the next gubernatorial candidate forum at Detroit’s Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church at 1:00 PM on March 3, 2018. The People’s Governor Forum: Transforming Michigan’s Futurewill offer voters the opportunity to hear directly from candidates on issues that directly affect their lives.
“We are going to demand that the politicians come to us early, and that they listen to our community’s needs,” said Co-chair Rev. Deedee Coleman, President of the Council of Baptist Pastors of Detroit & Vicinity. “We want them to address our bold agenda for a prosperous, healthy future for all.”
Co-chair Hassan Sheikh, Executive Directorof Emgage announced that the People’s Governor Candidate Forum will feature Congressman Luis Gutierrez of Illinois. “Congressman Gutierrez has been a champion for working people, for immigration reform, and a voice for those who have been marginalized and left out.” saidSheikh. “The Congressman will get us fired up, and outline the values we hope that candidates will embody.
The candidates confirmed to attend so far include Democrats Abdul El-Sayed, Gretchen Whitmer Bill Cobbs and Republican Patrick Colbeck. The group has invited candidates from all parties who have submitted 15,000 nominating petition signatures to the Secretary of State or drawn at least 5% support in an independent non-partisan statewide poll by February 19th. They will be challenged to address issues of poverty, inequality, and racism. Co-chair said the group has decided on 6 topics for the night: criminal justice reform, environmental justice, education, care, immigration and workers rights.
“We’re going to bring real people, workers, families, people of faith, child care providers and immigrants, to speak truth to power.” Said Co-chair Dr. Louis Forsythe of Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church.
The candidate forum’s audience quickly outgrew its first venue and was moved to Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church where the sanctuary holds 2,400 with a quiet room for childcare.
Buses have already been reserved to bring voters from Grand Rapids, Lansing, and Macomb County. “When we join together, the candidates will know that they have to deal with us collectively.” Said Co-chair Freddy Polanco of the SEIU.
Citizens terrified of the devastating effects of massive cuts to social safety net in lower income communities join panel discussion with national, state and local elected officials
U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, state Rep. Ronnie Peterson, Washtenaw County Commissioner Ricky Jefferson, Ypsilanti city council member Peter Murdock, Community Alliance executive director Kathy Grant and former state Rep. John Freeman will discuss the potentially devastating impact of Trump’s proposed budget which seeks to cut $700 Billion from Medicaid in front of an audience of concerned community members and constituents. The discussion focused on how these cuts will impact vulnerable communities in Washtenaw County, including developmentally disabled adults, seniors in nursing homes, school districts ability to serve special needs children, and low income workers.
Kathy Grant, Executive Director, Community Alliance, provides insight on the need for Medicaid and the effects any cuts would have “Medicaid is a lifeline for people with disabilities. Sometimes it is the only source of funding for long term supports and services that many people with developmental disabilities rely on to live in the community. Community Alliance works with nearly 500 people with developmental disabilities to help them to utilize Medicaid funded programs and services to receive the necessary assistance with personal care like eating, bathing, getting dressed and taking medicine. Cuts to Medicaid turn back the clock to a time when the only option for people with developmental disabilities was institutionalization. “
In addition, former State Rep. John Freeman discussed the poison pill provision that will trigger cancellation of Michigan’s medicaid expansion, which would cause 600,000 Michiganders to lose their health coverage as soon as 2019. As Freeman wrote in a recent memo:
“If federal funding for Medicaid is dramatically reduced, this will trigger the termination [of the Healthy Michigan Plan]…But even if nothing is changed at the federal level, the Healthy Michigan Program will still likely terminate after fiscal year 2019-20”
Furthermore, this is only one of the many ways Trump is actively undermining the ACA and harming the most vulnerable among us. The President has just signed an executive order that will allow insurance companies to raise rates for sicker and older people by exempting younger and healthier people from certain essential benefits. As Karen Pollitz, a senior fellow at the Kaiser Family Foundation has said, “Within a year, this would kill the market.”
Citizens and public officials met to raise their voices and resist these assaults to ordinary Americans’ healthcare.
Healthcare for Michigan Medicaid Enrollees, Medicare Recipients Jeopardized, so that Top 1% Can Get $76,560 Tax Cut. Meanwhile 13% of Middle-Class Michigan Households Will Get a Tax INCREASE.
The U.S. Senate is expected to vote on a budget resolution that will set the framework for how much federal spending and taxes will be cut. The proposal would allow for a $1.5 trillion tax cut mostly benefiting the wealthy and corporations, which is not paid for by closing loopholes, meaning the costs will be added to the deficit.The ballooning of the deficit will jeopardize funding for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education,and other services that America’s families rely on. Meanwhile, many middle-class families will see a tax increase under the plan.
This threat to the basic living standards of America’s working families is not abstract. The Senate budget proposes $5.8 trillion in cuts to federal spending, including nearly $500 billion from Medicare and $1.3 trillion from Medicaid and other healthcare programs. Another $650 billion may be cut from income security programs, such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps), Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for disabled individuals, and tax credits for working families. Michigan’s working families and seniors will be particularly harmed, and Senators Peters and Stabenow should vote NO to protect their constituents.
See data below for the effects on Michigan’s families.
A panel of officials and constituents gathered Monday at Community Alliance, a non-profit agency in Ypsilanti, Michigan, to discuss the potential changes to Medicaid.
“Seniors need help sometimes with just making sure they’re eating or getting dressed or bathing. It’s dignity.” said Rep. Debbie Dingell. “It’s about the dignity of every human being, and as you get older, you can still be a very important contributing member of our community, We need their wisdom, we need their contributions. They need a little help. We shouldn’t destitute somebody because they’re older or not be there for them. We need to understand what Medicaid has become.”
“The Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion helped fund the Healthy Michigan Plan, and if the ACA is replaced, the Healthy Michigan Plan will no longer be sustainable.” said former state Rep. John Freeman. “When you make a significant social change like we did with the ACA, you have to expect backlash, and that’s what’s happened. So if we think that this is important – and we all do – then we have to go out there and protect what we want.”
TAX CUTS FOR THE RICHEST 1% IN MICHIGAN FROM THE TRUMP-GOP TAX PLAN
14% of households would get a $1,590 tax increase, on average, in 2018.
13% of households making $42,100 to $67,000 would get a $780 tax increase, on average.
14% of households making $67,000 to $108,300 would get a $1,360 tax increase, on average.
EFFECT ON MICHIGAN OF REPEALING THE STATE AND LOCAL TAX DEDUCTION (SALT)
The Trump-GOP tax plan repeals the SALT deduction. Taxpayers can deduct state and local property taxes, and either income or sales taxes, from their federal taxable income. SALT helps taxpayers, many of them middle-class, avoid being double taxed at the federal level.
For state and county level data on the number of households claiming the SALT deduction, the percentage that are middle-income and the average SALT deduction (see this report from the National Association of Counties http://explorer.naco.org).
For congressional district-level data on the percentage of taxpayers claiming the SALT
deduction and the average deduction claimed (see this report from the Government Finance Officers Association).
EFFECT ON MICHIGAN OF REPEALING THE FEDERAL ESTATE TAX
To pay for massive tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations, President Trump and GOP leaders have proposed deep cuts to services that working families rely on. The Senate budget resolution would cut over 10 years:
$1.3 trillion from Medicaid and other health care programs
$470 billion from Medicare
$650 billion from income security programs, which may include cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps), Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for disabled individuals, and tax credits for working families.
Also at risk are Pell Grants and other financial aid to help students afford college.
U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (MI-12) today joined State Representatives, families and health care providers to highlight the devastating local impact of Republicans’ latest “Trumpcare” legislation, which the Senate GOP hopes to rush to a vote next week. Michigan stands to lose nearly $10 billion in federal health care funding by 2027 if the Graham-Cassidy bill is signed into law. According to a new report, premiums for those with pre-existing conditions could skyrocket by as much as tens of thousands of dollars.
“The American people have overwhelmingly rejected “Trumpcare”, and the newest Graham-Cassidy bill repackages the same damaging proposals and makes them even worse,” said Rep. Dingell. “The stories shared by families and health care providers today emphasize how much is at stake. Not only does this bill end Medicaid as we know it by cutting and capping the program, it also eliminates Healthy Michigan and completely eviscerates protections for people with pre-existing conditions, including autism, asthma and even pregnancy. This is unacceptable. We should be working together on productive, bipartisan action to stabilize the insurance marketplaces and extend affordable health care coverage to more families, not ramming through devastating proposals that take it away,”
“The effects of Graham-Cassidy would be devastating to our patients,” said Linda Atkins, chief executive officer of Western Wayne Family Health Centers. “Over 50% of our patients would become uninsured. That would cause them to begin using the ER for their healthcare, and those are things that we have been working so hard to turn around.”
“It’s because of days like today why it is so important,” said Alexis Wyatt of Brownstown, who was unable to attend the event because her 10-month-old son Alexander had to be rushed to the hospital. Alexander was born with severe illnesses that are still being diagnosed, and Alexis relies on Medicaid for Alexander’s doctor’s visits, emergency room visits, and other treatments. “Alexander is unpredictable. We have many ER visits, hospital admissions, medicines, and health supplies,” she said. “His month medical supplies are $400, and that’s just for his feeding supplies. Without Medicaid, I could not afford that so then how would he eat or get nutrition? Without his feeding tube or constant care, he would likely die.”
“The Graham-Cassidy bill is simply unacceptable when it comes to protecting the health and well-being of our patients, families and communities,” said Laura Appel, senior vice president and chief innovation officer, Michigan Health & Hospital Association. “Michigan hospitals cannot support legislation that will cost our state billions of dollars and eviscerate healthcare coverage and access to care on such a large scale.”
Kari Snyder of Wyandotte, whose mother’s accounting job was outsourced to another company just as she was undergoing a biopsy for breast cancer, said, “my mom didn’t quit or get fired. She just got outsourced. If we are going to give businesses the flexibility to do that, we need to protect their employees. The Graham-Cassidy bill doesn’t do that. If not for pre-existing coverage, my mom might not be alive today.”
“Downriver residents are rightfully concerned about recent healthcare proposals that threaten to cut essential benefits and return lifetime caps on insurance coverage,” said State Representative Darrin Camilleri. “I am committed to fighting for these protections at the state level, and today’s conversation is an important reminder of what’s at stake in the debate about health insurance and prescription drug prices in Lansing and Washington.”
“I have deep concerns about the latest attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Specifically, this will spell the end of Medicaid expansion in Michigan, meaning that about 650,000 of our most vulnerable residents —working families, children and seniors — will lose their health coverage,” said State Representative Erika Geiss. “Beyond that, leaving health care protections up to the states means that the popular and effective provisions of the ACA — such as coverage for pre-existing conditions and allowing young people to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26, among many others — are at risk.”
Dingell was also joined by State Representative Cara Clemente and Farah Erzouki, public health coordinator at ACCESS, to discuss the impact of the Graham-Cassidy bill on the state of Michigan.
Analysts estimate that by 2027, 32 million Americans could lose their health coverage under the Graham-Cassidy bill. The legislation ends the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion, which has extended health care to 695,000 Michiganders through the Healthy Michigan program; and ends premium tax credits, and cost-sharing reduction payments, all of which help millions of Americans afford health care. The legislation also permanently cuts and caps the Medicaid program—the largest health insurance program in the nation—which covers more than 74 million Americans, including more than 33 million children.
695,000 people have gained health coverage since the ACA was implemented.
Roughly 1.6 million people in Michigan have pre-existing health conditions, and could have their coverage rescinded if the ACA is repealed.
Michigan received $3.08 billion in federal Medicaid dollars to implement the Healthy Michigan plan. This revenue could be lost if the ACA is repealed.
A recent University of Michigan study found that Medicaid expansion in Michigan has boosted our economy and our budget and will continue to do so for the next five years. According to the study, the Healthy Michigan plan has generated more than 30,000 new jobs each year – one-third of them being in healthcare and 85 percent in the private sector. These jobs resulted in approximately $2.3 billion more in personal spending power for Michigan residents.
Repeal of ACA threatens those with pre-existing conditions, reliant on medicaid
Representative Debbie Dingell met with several children born prematurely or with special needs and their parents for a roundtable discussion of how proposed healthcare reform would affect them. Children with special needs like these will find themselves squarely in the crosshairs if the cuts to medicaid and removal of protections under the Affordable Care Act are signed into law.
“As a parent advocate and peer counselor for our hospital’s NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit), I see moms and babies every day that rely on the financial and program resources available through our health care plans.” said Vickie Korsak of the Michigan March of Dimes “Lack of access and coverage is nothing less of devastating to the the lives and futures of our sickest and most fragile. The debate over lifetime limits, the definition of pre-existing conditions and the funding of Medicaid strikes terror in every parent who has had a baby born premature, ill or with a genetic condition.”
Ryan Bates, the director of Michigan United and the father of a child born 14 weeks early, said, “Congress is debating taking health care away from vulnerable children so that the most fortunate among us can have a tax cut. That’s just wrong. This is generous country where we take care of each other.”
The group was joined by David Sanchez and his son Benicio, who gets autism treatment through a Medicaid funded program, and a representative of the Michigan Nurses Association.
Michigan Women join thousands across the country to push new economic agenda for all women
Michigan United began to roll out it’s Universal Family Care campaign at the Riverview Public Library Monday night. US Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-MI12) and State Representatives Darrin Camilleri, (D-23 Brownstown) and Cara Clemente (D-14 Lincoln Park) came out to show their support for the plan to help families care for their children, seniors, the disabled, and caregivers.
“A few years ago, mom was diagnosed with cancer and had to move in with me. So that I could keep working, we had to use mom’s savings to pay for in home care.” said Terri Voepel-Lewis, a downriver resident who provided end of life care for her mother. ”That quickly ran low, as the cost of in home care for 8 hrs a day cost thousands over her short illness. Mom died before we had to consider other sources of care. No one should have to worry about how to care for their parents at the end of life”.
Universal Family Care would be very helpful families like the Lewis’. The campaign seeks to provide Universal Home Care for Seniors and People with Disabilities, and would have allowed Terri’s mom to receive the resources from the state to afford the care her mom needed during her illness.
Additional components of Universal Family Care include: Universal Childcare, Support for stay-at-home Parents, Workforce Standards, (those include reimbursement rates to workers set high enough to provide a living wage), and Paid Family Leave. The program covers all types of care, to support families and people of all abilities to work and live well at every stage of life.
Universal Family Care is about being there for loved ones. Care needs to be centered on families that are allowed the ability to make good care choices. Without a program that helps provide clear information about affordable choices, Michigan families cannot get the care they need and want.
The Riverview event was part of the “We Won’t Wait’s” week of action that has spawned similar events across the country. Another event will be held Friday, July 7th at the Oloman Cafe at 10215 Joseph Campau Ave, Hamtramck from 6 PM – 8 PM. Lending their voices to speak up for Michigan families and to join Michigan United as they Launch Universal Family Care in Hamtramck will be the Director of Community Engagement for Council Member At-Large for Janeé Ayers, Justin Johnson and State Representative Stephanie Chang (D-6 Detroit).