U.S. Rep Kildee visits Saginaw to hear health care concerns

SAGINAW, MI —  U.S. Rep Dan Kildee, D-Flint Twp., visited Great Lakes Bay Health Centers on Wednesday, Aug. 2, to talk about healthcare in Michigan and the future of healthcare system.

The room was full of GLBHC health care professionals and constituents who were anxious to hear Kildee’s thoughts on the proposed changes in the healthcare system.

“My main goal is: learn from people on what we need to do to improve the Affordable Care Act. It’s this sort of political debate that could be set aside and we can actually roll up our sleeves and figure out what we need to do to improve the Affordable Care Act, to improve outcomes,” Kildee said.

Kildee said one of his top priorities for healthcare in Michigan is to protect Medicaid Expansion.

“It has made a difference for hundreds of thousands of Michiganders. We never had access to health insurance before — we now do,” Kildee said.

He said rather than focus on a binary choice of Obama Care or nothing, his colleagues should be focusing on how to make things work.

Some of the people in the crowd, like Stuart Grunwell, were concerned about the expenses of healthcare.

Grunwell said he lived in the UK for 16 years and he had free healthcare since he landed. But since he’s been back living in America, the healthcare system in comparison to other countries like the UK are basically night and day.

“When me and my wife first got here, we were on low-incomes. We got full Medicaid. Soon as we got a pay raise, we lost our Medicaid. Employers don’t offer health insurance because the cost of their insurance companies.We now have a $5,000 deductible a month on Medicaid, “Gruwell said.

Grunwell told a story about a devastating situation where he and his wife went to a bake sale to support a baby who has leukemia.

“Me and my wife went to a bake sale for a 1-year-old baby with leukemia. They both work. They pay health insurance $500, $600 on health insurance. Even on health insurance, they can not afford to pay for all the treatment for their baby. Why in America – one of the richest county’s in the world, why would you have to have a bake sale,” Grunwell asked.

He added if you’re in prison or you don’t work, you don’t have to pay for healthcare.

Some in the room cheered him on and clapped with tears in their eyes.

Kildee in response said, “I’m glad you told your story. That’s why we’re having this fight.”

“I think one of the things we have to do is strengthen the individual market healthcare. The people who purchase their health care on the exchange, those individuals that don’t have either Medicaid or employer-paid health care, we need to make sure that they can get affordable health insurance and that is a problem. It’s six or seven percent of the total health care of the economy.”

Kildee said dealing with the healthcare system is a learning experience and to move forward republicans and democrats need to make come together to make the adjustments to the system.

“I’m willing to do that and I actually think there are lots of Democrats and Republicans in Congress who could get on board with that. It won’t happen if Republicans take the position of that the ACA needs to be repealed and what we replace it with is less consequential. Or Democrats take the position that the ACA is defended at all costs without an acknowledgment that we might need to improve it,” Kildee said.

Congress is currently in recess and and will resume on Sept.5, but Kildee said this is a critical time for people to deliver messages to Congress.