News Story

Analysis: Transit Nonsense + State Health Care Rationing = Really Bad Policy

Michigan patients, doctors and taxpayers dodged at least one bullet in last week’s lame-duck legislative sessions: The House failed to pass a bill giving the state “Certificate of Need” commission the power to deny permission to expand a private health care facility because it lacks “adequate access to public transportation services.”

The appropriately-acronymed CON system rations the availability of health care facilities and technology by requiring providers to seek permission from this government commission before creating or expanding facilities, or adding advanced tools like MRI machines. Without CON’s permission, they can’t proceed.

The real question is why the Republican-controlled Senate passed this in the first place, 36-1. As the political attack ads might say, “Ask your Senator today why he wants to make it harder for sick people to get care, while also promoting radical environmentalists’ wasteful transit fantasies.”

Unfortunately for taxpayers, the rest of this package authorizing new transit-related borrowing, spending, tax breaks and subsidies passed the Senate with all Republicans on board (except for one member each on two bills). With many exceptions, most Republicans in the House voted against most the bills – holding more true than their Senate colleagues to the principles they had probably all promised GOP primary voters to uphold. Here are links to who in the House voted yes and who voted no on each bill:

Senate Bill 1233, five House Republicans voted "yes"

Senate Bill 1234, 11 House Republicans voted "yes"

Senate Bill 1235, 31 House Republicans voted "yes"

Senate Bill 1236, 10 House Republicans voted "yes"

Senate Bill 1238, 11 House Republicans voted "yes"

House Bill 5979, 18 House Republicans voted “yes”

House Bill 5988, 23 House Republicans voted “yes”

House Bill 5989, 19 House Republicans voted “yes”

House Bill 5998, 21 House Republicans voted “yes”

No House roll call was recorded for the failed CON bill; the rest of the package is now on its way to Gov. Granholm for her signature, which she almost certainly will provide.

Many of those GOP primary voters referenced above are probably shaking their heads and wondering "Why?" as they read about this. Here’s one possible explanation:

The Michigan Legislature has become addicted to spending and corporate welfare schemes that primarily benefit small numbers of well-connected developers and business owners, or ones involved in a few fad industries (like movie production, or electric car batteries). Lobbyists hired by those favor-seekers – including the local developers who will be the primary beneficiaries of these bills - stalk the Capitol, smiles and boisterous back-slaps for all, checkbooks ready to provide campaign contributions.

Many of this favor-factory's most active legislators boast that they're "conservatives" because of votes on taxes, guns and abortion. They count on no one looking too closely at their records on spending, regulation and corporate welfare  - scan the votes on new laws listed under those links for a glimpse of the magnitude of the gap between talk and action.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.