Hundreds participated in the event to ask questions and discuss solutions.
LANSING, Mich. — On Wednesday evening, Michigan state Representatives Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids), Jon Hoadley (D-Kalamazoo) and Emily Schwarzkopf, health policy expert with the Michigan League for Public Policy joined a telephone town hall hosted by the State Innovation Exchange (SiX). They discussed health care policies to protect insurance coverage, lower costs including for prescription drugs, and hold pharmaceutical companies accountable.
The hour-long dial-out call reached over 2,300 residents in West Michigan with more than 420 participating at the peak of the call.
“Everyone has a right to affordable health care and prescription drugs, no matter who you are or where you live,” said Rep. Brinks, the ranking Minority member of the House Health Policy Committee. “We must stand up to special interests so that no one has to go bankrupt because of their health issues.”
Throughout the call, Reps. Brinks and Hoadley talked about legislative initiatives including, , and the fight for more transparency from big drug companies and health insurance corporations. They have also been pushing for better health care through their agenda introduced earlier this year.
“We just saw conservatives in Lansing push through a bill that could take away health insurance from hundreds of thousands of people on the Healthy Michigan plan by adding more red tape and burdensome requirements,” said Rep. Hoadley. “For so many people this issue is literally life or death and we won’t stop fighting for them.”
A poll was taken of participants on the call and found that nearly 74 percent of those listening ranked health care as their top concern among all issues, and a plurality, 46 percent of listeners, said protecting access to Medicaid and Medicare should be the top health care priority. A combined total of 86 percent said they think the Affordable Care Act is either working or is better than before and needs improvements, while only 14 percent said it should be repealed.
On the call, residents, including retirees, registered nurses, Medicare recipients, and others posed questions on the following topics:
- How to ensure those with pre-existing conditions can access affordable health insurance;
- How to require pharmaceutical companies to offer prescription drugs for fair prices;
- What can be done to limit nurse-to-patient staffing ratios to avoid nurse burn out and medical errors;
- What state legislators can do to preserve access to care in the face of federal cuts to Title X family planning funding;
- How to ensure care at Veterans Administration hospitals remains affordable; and
- Whether the Affordable Care Act is in danger of being repealed.
SiX plans to hold additional telephone town hall events with Michigan lawmakers on lifting wages in June. All events are open to the public and media are welcome.