Granholm To Speak On Health Issues

    GRAND RAPIDS — Gov. Jennifer Granholm will address health-care issues when she speaks later this month in Grand Rapids.

    The governor is the keynote speaker for the Alliance for Health’s monthly First Friday Forum, which has been moved up one week to accommodate Granholm. The forum, moderated by Irwin Seating Co. President Win Irwin, is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., Friday, Feb. 27, at Davenport University’s Grand Rapids campus.

    Gov. Granholm has addressed several health-care topics recently, including expanding the use of three-share health plans, creation of a discount drug card, and increasing the number of federally qualified health centers in Michigan.

    Her recent budget proposal for the 2004-05 fiscal year recommended a 75-cent per-pack increase in the state’s cigarette tax, with the funding dedicated to heath care. The estimated $295 million the increase would generate would go to partially offset a $385 million reduction for the state in federal support for Medicaid.

    A coalition of health-care groups last week voiced support for the budget plan, saying it protects health-care services for the most vulnerable and jobs in an industry that is the state’s largest employer, with 466,000 jobs.

    “Funding health care is a sensible investment in Michigan’s future,” said Dr. Hassan Amirikia, president of the 15,000-member Michigan State Medical Society.

    Republican lawmakers and some business groups oppose the governor’s budget proposal.

    Senate Majority Leader Ken Sikkema, R-Grandville, called the budget proposal, which also includes an increase in the state alcohol tax to help erase a projected $1.4 billion deficit, disappointing.

    “We are facing another looming budget deficit, one that requires a very sober attempt to cut state spending,” Sikkema said.           

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