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Bill Would I-D Michigan Companies with Most Employees on Medicaid

An estimated 60 percent of working-age Medicaid enrollees are employed, according to a report from the Kaiser Family Foundation. (Goir/iStockphoto)
An estimated 60 percent of working-age Medicaid enrollees are employed, according to a report from the Kaiser Family Foundation. (Goir/iStockphoto)
June 19, 2018

LANSING, Mich. – The old saying goes that sunlight is the best disinfectant - and a new bill in the Michigan Legislature would shine a light on big companies that pay their workers so little that they qualify for government-funded health care.

House Bill 6146, the Fair Share Health Care Disclosure Act, would require the state Department of Health and Human Services to publish an annual list of the 50 companies with the most employees on Medicaid.

State Rep. Patrick Green D-Warren says taxpayers end up footing the bill when companies skimp on wages and benefits.

"And if those benefits are not being provided by the employer and then transferred over to the state, how do I then balance between corporate tax breaks versus fighting for the working public?" he asks.

Greene says the list would be particularly useful for lawmakers deciding whether to give corporate tax breaks. He notes that last session, the Legislature approved several corporate tax cuts - then recently established a work requirement for Medicaid recipients.

Opponents of the bill say it isn't helpful to publicly shame companies that may be struggling to pay a living wage.

The minimum wage in Michigan is $9.25 an hour, which works out to $18,500 a year full-time. But Green says it takes about $50,000 a year to support a family of four.

"We don't look at this as a solution," he notes. "We look at this as another tool for us, to help move that needle farther down the road to get us to where a family can get to a living wage."

Michigan's minimum wage is set to increase to $10 an hour next year, then $10.65 in 2020, and $11.25 in 2021.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - MI