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Benishek’s New Health Care Plan: Be Rich Like Me


Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2011
Contact: Dawn Kettinger (517) 614-6810, dawn@progressmichigan.org

Benishek’s New Health Care Plan: Be Rich Like Me
Michigan Nurses Association calls legislation an out-of-touch insult to struggling families

OKEMOSCongressman Dan Benishek’s claim that his new legislation backed by an elite right-wing physicians group will increase access to health care shows how out of touch the millionaire surgeon is with the day-to-day struggles of residents of the Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan, the Michigan Nurses Association said today.

Only a millionaire surgeon would brag that he’s solving the health care crisis by providing one option: telling financially stressed Michigan residents they can set aside $15,000 a year in a special account,” said John Karebian, executive director of the Michigan Nurses Association. “Congressman Benishek consistently sides with the 1 percent who live in a fantasy world far from the struggles that ordinary Michigan families experience every day.  Michigan’s registered nurses are appalled that the group pushing this so-called ‘solution’ is exploiting the doctor-patient relationship to protect their own financial interests and advance a partisan agenda.”

Benishek, R-Crystal Falls, voted this year for the Ryan plan to dismantle Medicare and change it to a voucher-based system; increase the eligibility age; and increase out-of-pocket costs for 111,000 individuals in the First Congressional District between the ages of 44 and 54[i].

Benishek announced last week he has drafted legislation to “increase access to healthcare” and “preserve the doctor-patient relationship” by increasing the amount taxpayers can contribute to Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) to $15,000 a year, or $30,000 for joint returns. The IRS allows HSAs to be used in conjunction with certain private insurance plans to cover qualified medical expenses, but few insured patients use them[ii].

Dr. Benishek represents eight of the 10 counties in Michigan with the highest rate of uninsured residents[iii], where most residents don’t even have the option of using health savings accounts,” Karebian said. “He has no answer for struggling families except that if you’re not rich like him, you’re out of luck. Those are not the values of the 99 percent of hard-working Michigan residents who deserve real solutions like making millionaires and corporations pay their fair share and rebuilding our country by taxing financial transactions on Wall Street.”

Benishek is pushing the legislation with Docs4PatientCare, an elite right-wing group of physicians that proposes health savings plans as a "basic structural health insurance model” and supports the privatizing of Medicare. One of Docs4PatientCare’s “signature projects” is using every patient visit to lecture patients about the need to elect more Republicans to office and posting letters to that effect in their offices[iv].

MNA represents more than 1,400 registered nurses who live and work throughout Benishek’s district, including at Marquette General Hospital, Chippewa County War Memorial Hospital, and Alpena Regional Medical Center. Last week, registered nurses who work at War Memorial held a free health screening for local community members, many of whom lacked insurance.

Members of the Michigan Nurses Association are working to improve the quality of life for all in Michigan with their Main Street Contract for the American People, a nonpartisan campaign asks Benishek and other elected officials to put the interests of Michigan’s workers and families above those of the greedy Wall Street CEOs and corporations who crashed our economy.

The Main Street Contract supports priorities to rebuild our state and country, including jobs at living wages; quality education; guaranteed health care; secure retirement; good housing and protection from hunger; a safe and healthy environment; and a just taxation system where corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share, including a tax on financial transactions.  More information is available at www.fightformainstreet.org.



The Michigan Nurses Association represents more than 10,000 registered nurses across the state, advocating for them and their patients. Visit fightformainstreet.org for more information on their Michigan Main Street Campaign

[iii]U.S. Census data released in October: http://www.census.gov/did/www/sahie/index.html; about 1.2 million Michigan residents have no health insurance