Still Tax Season

May 7, 2007
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The business community would end up paying the tab in Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s plan to cut Medicaid by 6 percent on June 1, said Spectrum Health President and CEO Richard Breon

“All you’re doing is transferring the responsibility to the business community,” he said. “A lot of people talk about free care: There is no such thing as free care. If Medicaid patients cannot see a physician, they end up coming to our emergency room for care, which is a very expensive place to get health care.”

The cuts would trim $49 million from the current state budget, which some estimates put at $700 million short.

“The chamber looks at it as a tax increase,” said Jared Rodriguez, vice president for public policy and government affairs for the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce. The chamber has come out in favor of raising Medicaid payments. “Our members are going to have to pay more for insurance premiums and employees are going to have to pay more.”

John MacKeigan, vice president of medical affairs for Michigan Medical PC, Grand Rapids’ largest doctors’ group, and former president of the Michigan State Medical Society, believes it’s time for lawmakers to consider universal care.

“Our society needs to take some collective social responsibility for health care and it’s about time we had true universal access, not necessarily one payer, but true universal access, and Medicaid is not about access,” he said.

  • In other health news, MMPC founder James Buzzitta has retired as chairman and managing shareholder.

The aforementioned MacKeigan has been named interim chairman and managing shareholder. Buzzitta assumes the role of chairman emeritus. He plans to take a more active role in real estate through Hughes Management, a developer of medical facilities.

  • Wondergem Consulting and Professional Marketing led the 2007 PRoof Awards, the annual awards competition of the West Michigan Chapter of Public Relations Society of America.

The 20-year-old Wondergem Consulting won seven awards including a Best of Show for its public relations work on behalf of the 2006 MichBIO Expo. Wondergem consultant Kate Washburn was named Distinguished PR Professional for 2007.

Professional Marketing earned the other Best of Show for its integrated marketing campaign on behalf of Webkinz. The Grand Rapids firm won a total of five awards.

Joseph Tomaselli, president of Amway Hotel Corp., was named Communicator of the Year. WOOD TV 8 correspondent Rick Albin was honored as Journalist of the Year and Kelly Quintanilla of Global Forex Trading as Newcomer of the Year.

  • When Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. made an unsolicited $5 billion offer last week for Dow Jones & Co., which publishes The Wall Street Journal, the letter actually making the offer was delivered to none other than M. Peter McPherson, Lowell native and former president of MichiganStateUniversity, on the eve of his ascension to the chairmanship of Dow Jones.

  • Three champion Kenyan marathon runners set to compete in this weekend’s Fifth Third River Bank Run are working with a Grand Rapids organization to promote its Sustainable Clean Water Initiative. Titus Kibii, Luke Kibet and world-record holder Daniel Komen have all personally benefited from the work of Partners Worldwide, an international organization that engages businesspeople as mentors for entrepreneurs in the Third World

If any of the runners win or place Saturday, they will donate their winnings to the water program, which aims to bring sustainable water sources to the 1.2 billion people in the world with no access to clean water.

  • The Coopersville Auto Auction will include the sale of motorcycles, boats and other “toys” in a new monthly event that will be a focal point of the organization’s new business model.

Celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, the Coopersville Auto Auction is the longest continuously operating public/dealer auto auction in Michigan. The family team of Troy Rubery and Frank Rusch, his uncle, acquired the auction in January. Regular auto auctions are held every Tuesday night at Other offerings available at the auction’s

190 W. Randall St.
location include a full line of automotive repair and detailing services, and the Cruisers Café restaurant.

The Toy Sale will provide an outlet for dealers and the public to buy and sell “toys” — motorcycles, hot rods, off-road vehicles, go-karts, snowmobiles, jet skis, campers, boats, boat motors and other recreational, sporting and hobbyist equipment and vehicles.

  • The Rental Property Owners Association of Kent County has donated 1,000 children’s books to SibleyElementary School in Grand Rapids, which will in turn donate the books to parents and the children involved in its “Read 4 Rent” program. This program offers $100 monthly rental vouchers to the families of students who qualify and commit to read with their children before school three times a week, for five months. 

The association also announced the creation of a charitable fund to financially support additional Grand RapidsPublic School literacy efforts.

  • In related news, Tuesday is voting day. Historically generating only a fraction of the response of the November election, the spring ballot generally concerns taxes, schools and a combination thereof.

In his blog, localareawatch.org, watchdog Bill Tingley observed an underreported impact of compounding school cuts. The Interurban Transit Partnership has a millage proposal on the ballot to fund new bus routes in service to its more than 7 million riders each year. Roughly half of those riders are Grand Rapids Public Schools high school students who ride The Rapid in lieu of Dean Transportation school buses. In fact, the new Westside route runs from downtown to UnionHigh School

“So it is not enough that the city school district has so mismanaged the tax dollars it receives from us that it can’t cover the transportation of its students hither and yon to attend classes?” Tingley asked. “We are now expected to fork over additional taxes to subsidize this work.”

There is organized opposition to the millage. The “Rapid No” campaign recently placed an anti-ITP advertisement on the side of a Grand Rapids bus.

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