Issues

This is where I will share my ideas for improving our state, and making our everyday lives a little bit easier. These ideas have come from speaking and receiving feedback from hundreds of people throughout our district, and throughout the state of Michigan, and using the skills I have developed to look at the root causes of problems in order to fix them.

As a nurse, I know it’s not enough just to treat the symptoms. We have to find the underlying cause, and fix that if we ever want to stop feeling its harmful effects. The same principles can be applied to public policy. I also want to hear from you what concerns you have, what challenges you are facing in your everyday life, and what you’d like to see done about it.

Here are my top priorities and positions at this time. These will be updated as needed.

 

Healthcare

Healthcare - #MICare

Affordable healthcare is at the forefront of everyone’s mind. This is not a partisan issue, and is one of the most personal issues I can think of. We have one body, that’s it. As a nurse, I can tell you the old saying that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” However, our current system that is solely based on a for-profit, market based approach to healthcare is in direct opposition to that philosophy. When healthcare becomes a luxury item, one you have to save up for, or self-ration due to unaffordable deductibles, we suffer as a society. Our current system is holding us hostage to the health insurance companies, who can and do charge us whatever they want, and we do not have the right to seek an alternative route to healthcare.

As a nurse who has not only been at the bedside, but also the one who writes policy and who has sat in the boardroom, I know that this current model is making us all sicker. I believe in people over profits, and believe it’s time we had a real alternative to the market based system which turns our lives and deaths into a commodity.

The people of Michigan should have the right to invest in themselves and their neighbors by purchasing healthcare through a State run public option. Below is the outline of my proposal for #MICare:

Costs

  • Monthly premiums for individual adults similar to and not to exceed those paid now for private health insurance.

  • Lower premiums for children under 18, and family maximums that will limit out of pocket costs for large families

  • Affordable co-pays for Urgent Care or ER visits, no co-pays for primary care, specialist care, diagnostics, labs, therapies, medical equipment or medications.  

  • ER/Urgent Care Co-Pays waved if patient is admitted to the hospital.

  • No deductibles or co-insurance

Benefits to Patients

  • All 10 essential health benefits as laid out by the ACA will be covered

  • No discrimination for pre-existing conditions

  • Vision and Dental options available

  • Mental health and substance abuse services are fully covered

  • Maternity, Family planning and reproductive health care are fully covered

  • Portability, goes with you throughout the state, not job dependent

  • Not based on income. (Those who qualify for Medicaid will still be eligible for those benefits at no cost.)

  • For those over 65/eligible for Medicare, can be used as Medigap coverage, and benefits also include home health aids/supports needed to age in place in the home.

  • Complex Case Management will be a covered benefit for those who qualify

  • Transportation benefit for those who qualify

Benefits to Providers

  • Higher reimbursements for Primary/Specialist office visits (double Medicaid reimbursement rates.)

  • No PA/Referrals needed, which reduces office processes

  • Hospital reimbursement rates comparable to Medicare, but decrease with 7 and 30 day readmissions for the same diagnosis and non-reimbursement for “never” events

  • Complex Case Management available for higher needs patients

  • Guaranteed reimbursement for covered benefits

  • Decreases bad debt from patients previously unable to cover healthcare bills

Benefit for Business/Employees

  • Businesses may offer to cover the monthly premium directly for employees as an employment benefit, and remain complaint with the ACA.

  • Employees enjoy free healthcare paid in full by their employer for themselves and their dependents

  • The monthly premium for the plan is the entire cost with no additional costs owed by the business.

  • Healthier employees, less lost productivity to illness, FMLA to care for sick family members (home health aid benefit), less employee turnover due to healthcare concerns.

Benefit to the State/Each Other

  • This plan is optional, there is no compulsory effort to have members enroll

  • Those opposed to family planning care are not compelled to participate in this plan

  • Early intervention and regular care leads to an overall healthier society

  • More money that can be put back into the economy when we stop paying astronomical healthcare costs

  • Decreased maternal/infant mortality

  • The Greatest Generation can receive the home care they need now to avoid institutions

  • Aging Baby Boomers can remain in their homes longer as they age

  • Runs as a state agency with help from county health departments already established

  • Creates thousands of healthcare related jobs to meet the increasing demands for newly accessible care.

  • Will draw people back to the State of Michigan

Education

Primary Education

The state of public schools in Michigan is in dire straits. Even affluent school districts are seeing veteran teachers leaving the profession after suffering years of low wages, disrespect from the State and fewer and fewer resources to teach the kids in our communities. Our public schools are being squeezed and starved to death in order to prop up a for-profit charter and religious school model to the liking of the DeVos family. They argue that Michigan families deserve options. But when one wealthy, influential family is choosing for you how the kids of Michigan will be educated, that’s not choice, and that’s not right.

The Michigan State Constitution mandates that the children of Michigan receive a free primary education. Sadly, the state of Michigan is currently arguing that this does not mean our children are entitled to a quality primary education, as evidenced by the current defense being put forth by the state that the children of Detroit do not have a right to literacy. This premise is both immoral and unconstitutional. The constitutional right to an education cannot be in name only. The actual subjects taught, including basic literacy, must be respected by the State as its responsibility.

The State of Michigan is in a breakneck race to the bottom in primary education for our children. We have let the for-profit charter school systems turn our children into walking dollar signs. They have no legal obligation to provide any kind of education to our children, they have no requirements for academic achievements. They have no obligations to stay in the communities where they open, and have skipped town after collecting their money from the state, leaving kids and parents behind. The public schools are then forced to take these students, without that reimbursement.

Our children are not getting the education they once did, and it’s getting worse every year. Teachers in this state are being treated like evil drains on our society, rather than the dedicated educators, child advocates and pillars of the community they are.

We need a large shift in educational priorities in our state. We must prioritize children over corporate profits.

We must

  • Ban for-profit charter schools, just like New York, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and New Mexico have done

  • Enforce minimum standards on public schools and non-profit charters, including academic achievement, minimum days of school attendance per school year, safe and accommodating learning environments, adequate notice of school closure, and adequate record keeping and storage of student records.

  • Require charter schools to adhere to truth in advertising, banning embellishments and falsified student achievements to attract new students.

  • Enforce reimbursement to the state for any charter school closures that force public schools to accept their displaced students.

  • All teacher contracts, both current and retirees, will be honored by the state, including all due pensions.

  • All teacher salaries and benefit packages are subject to collective bargaining rights, and no attempts will be made to subvert this process by any state agency.

  • All teachers, school administrators and support staff will be treated with the utmost dignity and respect due to their profession, and will be compensated accordingly.

  • All schools, and by extension the State, will be held accountable for ensuring all Michigan children receive a quality education, which includes basic literacy skills.

The state will maintain a minimum funding amount per student, and provide subsidies for any public school district that is unable to support its students due to a lower than average tax base. Charter schools will not be eligible for this subsidy.

 

Higher Education

The completion of a High School Diploma is no longer the key to unlocking the future of a middle-class life.

At a minimum, a technical or associates degree is now needed for jobs that pay a living wage with the benefits needed to have a secure life. Those who have already graduated High School and are in need of further certifications, or who are making a career change later in life, require training for these skilled jobs.

We must:

  • Amend the current High School Diploma programs to include programs that will allow students willing to participate in special curriculum to graduate High School with an associate’s degree.

  • Require all public high schools to offer to its students going through 11/12th grades the ability to participate in free skills training with the appropriate credits to complete a full certification training.

  • Require public high schools to offer job placement supports to those graduating from these programs to ensure full employment following graduation.

  • The state will offer grants to High Schools & Community colleges that offer free job retraining programs to those individuals who have been laid off or otherwise lost jobs in their previous industry.

Those who choose to graduate High School on the path towards college should also have the ability to work hard and graduate with the equivalent of an Associate’s degree, which will reduce the time and expense of completing a Bachelor’s Degree.

  • The State should expand its current High School Diploma curricula to include programs, including Advanced Placement (AP) courses to equate to an Associates degree upon graduation.

Bottom Line: those students who work hard and apply themselves in High School should have the chance to walk out with a double degree: High School and Associates. And those who are faced with a lost job need the available training to enter a new field, and continue to earn a living wage for themselves and their families.

Those who don’t fit into either of these categories should still have access to higher education despite their ability to afford astronomical college tuition costs. The State should provide trade school and community college grants to more individuals in order to provide them the training and certification they need to attain and sustain gainful employment.  

Transportation

Lack of access to transportation is one of the biggest barriers people face at every stage of their lives. For being the state most recognizably linked to transportation, our people are still shockingly immobile. Transportation is vital for employment, health, education and accessing the community. But for those who don’t have reliable personal transportation, all those needs are nearly impossible to meet easily or timely. We have incomplete and limited resources for public transportation, and ride sharing options are out of reach for many in less densely populated areas.

The state needs to help ensure the people of Michigan are able to get where they need to go. The Motor State owes that much to its people. We need to:

  • Invest in robust, extensive public transportation options throughout the state.

  • Ban practices by auto insurance companies that price people out of affordable car insurance, including basing insurance rates on zip code (“red lining”) and credit score.

  • Provide grants to local communities that create comprehensive, affordable transportation systems that meet the needs of lower income, disabled and elderly citizens to easily access high education, community centers, and healthcare.

Affordable Childcare

The people of Michigan are not able to fully participate in the economy when there are not adequate resources for those caring for young children. Child care costs are on par with the costs of college for young people, but new parents have not had the luxury of 18 years’ worth of time to save. Many parents have to make a choice after the birth or adoption of children: work full time to pay for child care, or take one of us out of the work force, either in part or whole, to stay home with our child(ren). This money then either goes directly to child care costs alone, or the other parent has sacrificed their income. This system not only keeps young people in Michigan from fully participating in the economy, it stunts their ability to ever fully re-enter it. This is one of the large contributing factors of the gender wage gap, as many times women are the ones who take themselves out of the work force rather than work to pay for childcare.

If the State of Michigan ever wants a fully functioning economy again, then it must address this barrier to full employment faced by so many.

We must:

  • Offer grants to organizations who will work to create parent cooperatives that can offer affordable, or even free child care, to its members.

  • Offer fully subsidized child care tuition to those who also qualify for public assistance, just as it offers programs like WIC. So many times those who rely on public assistance due to unemployment do so because they also care for young children.

  • Explore child care programs in public high schools, and create curriculum designed for those seeking to learn more about early childhood education as it relates to the possible career paths towards teaching, healthcare or social work. This program can meet the needs of childcare within communities, while also teaching young people early parenting skills and appropriate child rearing skills.

  • Provide incentives to business that provide on-site childcare for their employees. The State should also reward companies who offer flexible work schedules, job-sharing and work-from-home programs to facilitate parents remaining in the work force.

Job Creation

Job creation is paramount to the revitalization of Michigan. The state needs to act as a strategic partner with businesses that want to create long term, high paying jobs in Michigan.

While businesses have a responsibility to their customers and shareholders, they also have a responsibility to their employees and the communities that they serve. Businesses that subsidize their profit margins off their employees wages and benefits are not helping our state. Businesses that close up shop and ship jobs oversees are not helping our state.

Make no mistake, NAFTA did not force companies to move jobs overseas. The CEOs of those businesses make those decisions based on a desire to make even more money for themselves and their shareholders, despite the devastation it causes to their employees, the communities they serve, and our state as a whole. They are helping only themselves while hurting our people, and they call it a “business decision.”

While we can’t force businesses to stay or set up shop in our state, what we can do is reward businesses that do right by their employees, their neighbors, and our state, as well as their own bottom lines.

The state should reward businesses that provide their employees a living wage and other earned benefits as well as the opportunity for advancements. It is in the State’s interest to partner with businesses that eliminate the barriers that so many workers face to sustained, gainful employment.

The state should place businesses on a vesting schedule, so that after they have been a contributing part of a community for an established period of time, providing these essential employee benefits, only then will they receive financial rewards in the form of tax breaks and grants:

• Prevailing, living wages

• Collective bargaining rights to employees

• Fully covered health insurance, dental, vision

• Short term/ Long term Disability

• Employer matched retirement plans (401k, 403b, etc)

• Earned paid sick/family leave

• Flexible work schedules/job sharing (if applicable)

• Telecommuting (if applicable)

• Child care (either onsite or paid coverage)

• Transportation

• Tuition Reimbursement

• Advancement ladders

While business can’t be forced to do right by their employees or the State of Michigan, those that do make that investment in our people and our State should be generously rewarded.

The State also has the ability to create jobs in areas where big projects are on the horizon:

• Road repair

• Infrastructure repair

• Healthcare (#MICare)

• Green energy initiatives

In order to model good behavior, the state will commit to providing all of the expectations laid out in the vesting schedule for businesses for any of the state jobs that are created.

 

Small Business Support

Small business creation and sustainability is paramount to the growth of our economy. However, so many people with creative business models can’t get the funding or support they need to make those dreams into a reality. The state of Michigan, acting as a supporter of small business creation, should eliminate barriers in place for those looking to start their own business:

  • Provide low interest loans through the state for small business start ups

  • Provide local entities with the resources to provide educational and support services to anyone looking to start or sustain a small business.

  • Provide broadband internet service to rural areas so they can fully participate in e-commerce.

  • Defer small business state taxes until a certain threshold of profit is established for over 5 years, which will allow small businesses to grow without a tax burden until they are well established.