In Lansing last week...committee assignments were announced for the Michigan House of Representatives for the 2017-18 session. Livonia Representative Laura Cox (R) is chairing the Appropriations Committee, with Reps. Rob VerHeulen (R-Walker) as Majority Vice-Chair and Fred Durhal III (D-Detroit) as Minority Vice-Chair. Every spring, aging advocates travel to the State Capitol to testify before the Health & Human Services Subcommittee about funding for senior programs - that subcommittee has a new chair in Rep. Edward Canfield D.O. (R-Sebewaing), with freshman Rep. Sue Allor (R-Wolverine) as Majority Vice-Chair and Rep. Pam Faris (D-Clio) as Minority Vice-Chair. Other members of the subcommittee, which decides funding for all Medicaid programs and the Aging & Adult Services Agency, are Reps. John Bizon M.D. (R-Battle Creek), Larry Inman (R-Williamsburg), Freshman Kim LaSata (R-Bainbridge Township), Freshman Mary Whiteford (R-Casco Township), Freshman Jeff Yaroch (R-Richmond), Robert Kosowski (D-Westland), Harvey Santana (D-Detroit) and Henry Yanez (D-Sterling Heights).
Regarding policy committees, Freshman Rep. Daire Rendon (R-Lake City) will chair the House Families, Children & Seniors Committee, and Rep. Hank Vaupel D.V.M. (R-Fowlerville) will lead the House Health Policy Committee. For complete information about all 29 committees, visit www.house.michigan.gov.
The Michigan delegation in Washington, D.C. voted mostly along party lines on the reconciliation bill that included repealing the Affordable Care Act, with all Republicans, except one, voting for the bill, and all Democrats voting against it. Congressman Justin Amash (R-Grand Rapids) voted against the bill, despite his support for repeal, because the budget included significant deficit spending.
States could choose to keep the Affordable Care Act (ACA) under a creative proposal introduced last week by U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy M.D. (R- Louisiana) and Susan Collins (R-Maine). Called "The Patient Freedom Act," the bill would give states three options: 1) keep ACA; 2) receive 95% of the subsidies and all the Medicaid expansion money to create Health Savings Accounts for low-income residents; or 3) forego any federal assistance.
More veterans can now benefit from the national Lifeline program that offers a $10 discount on phone bills for those under age 65, and a $12 discount for those 65 and over. Specifically, participants in the Veterans and Survivors Pension Benefits program are eligible if their household income is at or below 150% of the federal poverty level ($17,820 for one person and $24,030 for a couple - add $6,240 for each additional person in the home). Discounts also apply to broadband service. The Lifeline program has always been available to people on Medicaid, Food Stamps, SSI, LIHEAP, TANF and the national school lunch program. To apply, contact your landline phone company, wireless provider or broadband provider. For a list of participating companies, call the Michigan Public Service Commission (PSC) at 800-292-9555.
*Published with permission of Area Agencies on Aging Association of Michigan.