Gov unveils his healthy Michigan plans

Gov. Rick Snyder wants to give a booster shot to Michigan's health care system by tackling obesity, getting more people into wellness programs and setting up an exchange where citizens and businesses can buy health insurance.

The Republican governor unveiled his plans Wednesday in a special message to the Legislature on health and wellness at the Heart of the City Health Center in Grand Rapids.

Among Snyder's goals are getting more veterans enrolled in health care offered by the Veterans Administration; giving children better access to healthier foods and exercise, and tracking pediatric obesity by adding their body mass measurements to a state registry; making sure that young pregnant women get prenatal care and children statewide get dental care; and outlawing smoking on state beaches.

He also wants insurers to cover treatments for autism. One of Lt. Gov. Brian Calley's children suffers from autism, but his efforts to push through legislation requiring the coverage have failed in the Senate. Snyder said "it's time" for Michigan to join the 27 states that require insurers to cover the disorder.

Even as he was laying out ways for the state to better serve residents' health care needs, Snyder called on individuals to take more responsibility for their own health and wellness through what he referred to as the Michigan 4X4 plan. Under the plan, everyone should maintain a healthy diet, engage in regular exercise, get an annual physical exam and avoid all tobacco use, and must have regular checks of their body mass index, blood pressure, cholesterol level and blood sugar level measurements.

"If each of us practice the Michigan 4X4 plan, our lives will be fuller, our health costs dramatically reduced and our ability to take advantage of all that is Michigan enhanced," he said in a copy of his remarks.

As with other initiatives the governor has introduced this year on education and government services, the Snyder administration has created a new health dashboard to measure statewide progress on reaching his goals. He urged local communities to identify their own local health priorities, find ways to address them and evaluate their success.

He praised the Marquette community for increasing physical activity by making walking and biking more accessible, planting community gardens, adding farmers markets and developing workplace wellness policies. And he said the state will draw on experts from all communities when it holds an obesity summit in Lansing on Sept. 21 and an infant mortality summit in Ypsilanti on Oct. 17.

Although Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette has joined more than a dozen other attorneys general in a lawsuit challenging federal health care changes, Snyder said he wants the GOP-controlled Legislature to begin implementing requirements in the federal law this fall. That includes passing legislation setting up Michigan's version of a health insurance exchange called the MI Health Marketplace.

"Done right, the MI Health Marketplace legislation will allow customers and small businesses to make more efficient and better informed decisions about buying health insurance coverage," Snyder said. He urged lawmakers to pass the necessary legislation by Thanksgiving so the state can use federal funding to set up the exchange and meet the requirements in the federal law.

The governor wants to take a "fresh look" at how the state regulates Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Michigan, which insures 4.3 million state residents, as part of an expansion of health insurance coverage. New rules require insurance providers to cover immunizations and preventative care for women and children, drop coverage limits and make other changes. He also wants to overhaul the 33-year-old state public health code, which doesn't mention electronic records or address many of the changes in medical services over recent decades.

He said the Medicaid program for low-income patients and the Medicare program for seniors would be better coordinated under his plan, potentially saving hundreds of millions of dollars. The state has received a $1 million federal grant to make the transition to a coordinated program by October 2012.

The governor also is having his administration review the state's 25 health profession licensing boards and task forces and decide if Michigan should instead accept national accreditation or certification for health care professionals.

"Health is the foundation for Michigan's economic transformation," Snyder said. "In order to see real improvement in our public health, and to make rising health care costs as manageable as possible, all levels of government, the private sector and individual Michiganders have a part to play."

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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If the governor truly wants to make every one of his constituents healthier, he simply can pass a law to stop adding unnecessary, health-robbing, money-wasting fluoride chemicals into Michigan residents' bodies via the water supply. But that might hurt him politically. So he won't do it unless the people organize and force their legislators do the right thing. More than 3,700 professionals (including 322 dentists) urge that fluoridation be stopped citing scientific evidence that ingesting fluoride is ineffective at reducing tooth decay and has serious health risks. See statement: Eleven US EPA unions representing over 7000 environmental and public health professionals are calling for a moratorium on fluoridation. The CDC reports that 225 less communities adjusted for fluoride between 2006 and 2008. About 100 US and Canadian communities rejected fluoridation since 2008, including Mt. Pleasant, Marcellus and Mt.Clemens, Michigan; Fairbanks, Alaska, and Calgary, Alberta, Canada, this year. New York State communities which have already stopped or rejected fluoridation include: Elba, Levittown, Canton, Corning, Johnstown, Oneida, Carle Place, Rockland County, Suffolk County, Western Nassau County, Albany, Beacon, Poughkeepsie, Riverhead, Central Bridge Water District, Homer, Ithaca, Rouses Point and Amsterdam. NYC Councilman Peter Vallone, Jr introduced legislation to stop fluoridation in New York City The influential LULAC Hispanic Civil Rights Organization recently passed a resolution opposing fluoridation because it is a violation of civil rights.

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Michigan (change)

Michigan is governed as a republic, with three branches of government: executive, legislative and judicial. The state also allows direct participation of the electorate by initiative, referendum, recall, and ratification.
Offices & Officials

Governor: Rick Snyder
Lieutenant Governor: Brian Calley
Attorney General: Bill Schuette
Secretary of State: Ruth Johnson

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