2017-05-11 / Columns

Michigan’s Role on Health Care

Michigan Politics
By George Weeks

Michigan had the prime player on Capitol Hill last week as the House rejected the Affordable Care Act known as Obamacare, and the state will have key players as the Senate addresses the health care issue that could be a factor in the state’s next U.S. Senate race.

Sixteen-term 6th District Representative Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph) crafted an amendment that was embraced in a White House meeting by President Donald Trump, and was key to the House health care approval.

Upton is a possible 2018 challenger of Senator Debbie Stabenow, who served earlier in the state House and Senate and U.S. House – a total of 40-plus years – and is a vocal opponent of what the House did on health care.

Stabenow vowed to “strongly oppose this plan in the Senate.”

She said the House version “would raise costs for Michigan families, eliminate protections if you or a family member has a pre-existing condition like cancer or a heart condition, and take us back to the days when insurance companies were in charge of your health care.”

In the House vote, the Michigan delegation split along party lines - nine Republicans, including Up North’s 1st District’s Jack Bergman, for it, the state’s five Democrats against.

Upton said: “I told the president directly this week that I would not support this bill without a fix. He took the challenge and we walked him through the problems and potential solutions. Covering those with pre-existing conditions is of the utmost importance to me.”

I have viewed Upton, who until recently was chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, as one of Michigan’s most effective members of Congress.

The 2016 Almanac of American Politics called Upton an affable politician, who “has an unusually moderate voting record for a Republican committee chairman, but he offsets his centrism by regularly aligning with the interests of business interests against what he considers excessive government regulation.”

The Almanac said his family fortune “puts him in the upper echelon in members of Congress in wealth.”

George Weeks, a member of the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame, for 22 years was political columnist for The Detroit News and preciously with UPI as Lansing bureau chief and foreign editor in Washington. His weekly Michigan Politics column is syndicated by Superior Features.

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