Medicaid Reform Plan Is Matter Of Trust

February 5, 2008
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When Stephen R. Covey spoke at the 119th annual meeting of the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, he delivered a message that focused on trust.

His talk actually centered on the “speed of trust,” yet Covey did convey that trust is more often a characteristic earned over time, with heavy doses of responsibility and taking ownership sprinkled in.

The flip side of that coin is a lack of trust, but that usually happens much more quickly. As Covey said, it can take just 30 seconds to destroy trust that took years to build.

The chamber is asking the business community for its trust in backing the “A Business Case For Medicaid Reform” plan. The plan’s success, however, hinges on trusting the state legislature, too. That’s a much more risky proposition for most business people.

GRACC acknowledges that it’s unusual for a business group to advocate for a boost in spending on Medicaid, the state- and federally funded health care coverage for the poor.

The chamber’s position that shoring up an under-funded Medicaid program will eventually positively impact employer-sponsored health insurance in West Michigan makes good business sense.

Doing so without increasing taxes also makes sense from a business perspective.

Any business owner will tell you that health insurance is an absolute anchor on the bottom line, and that anchor is getting heavier by the year. Respondents to the Business Journal’s biannual readership surveys have begun to indicate that the cost of health insurance is affecting staffing decisions, as well.

The chamber’s Medicaid reform targets, ranging from allowed medical procedures to redirecting money from the state’s Disproportionate Share Fund (see story, Page 1), are solid.

The fact that support is coming from a variety of sectors is encouraging, too.

But while the chamber’s assertion that the cost of the Medicaid reform changes could be covered by changing how current funds are used rather than by a tax increase is noble, it requires one thing: The politicians have to get involved.

For many business owners, that required trust sends a shiver down their spines.

Remember those 30 seconds Covey mentioned? Well, some business owners have memories that last an eternity, while politicians often can’t quite remember what happened at a morning meeting.

It’s just the nature of the beast: Politicians cajole, barter, negotiate and maneuver as a matter of survival. And the good ones do it well.

But trusting that the state legislature will take the chamber’s plan and find funding for it — without tax increases that will come back and bite business — requires more than just trust. It requires a leap of faith.  

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