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August 13, 1997 - Image 4

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 1997-08-13

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, August 13, 1997
Edited and managed by ERIN MARSH JACK SCHILLACI
students at the + Editor in Chief Editorial Page Editor
s University of Michiganoteedoaod lorriseea
42 M ynrdStee Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials re ect the opinion os
420 Maynard Street majority o theeDaily' editorial board. All ote o articlh letters an
Ann Arbor, MI 48109 cartoons d not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Dailva

Conventional wisdom dictates that
healthy people are happy people.
Health can greatly affect a person's ability
to contribute to society and better them-
selves. If an entire segment of the popula-
tion does not receive proper medical care
and has higher violent crime rates than
other parts of the community, it will be
unable to achieve its potential. According
to a Health Atlas issued last year by the
Washtenaw County Health Department,
the area's black population faces just such
obstacles. In response, several Washtenaw
County groups will sponsor a summit this
week to address health issues facing the
black community. The summit could offer
insight and facilitate solutions to the
health crises facing Washtenaw County's
black population.
The county's report revealed many
frightening statistics. For instance, the
infant mortality rate among the black pop-
ulation is twice that of the county at large.
In addition, the black male homicide rate
is more than five times that of the county's

Conference call
Summit could produce possible solutions

average. Such disparate crime and health
rates should alarm county health authori-
ties of the need to address such problems
quickly and efficiently with programs tar-
geted at the black community.
The summit will address many impor-
tant areas including maternal health, sub-
stance abuse, youth violence, chronic dis-
eases and aging. The summit will feature
speeches by Louis Sullivan, former U.S.
secretary of health and human services
and Na'im Akbar, a psychologist special-
izing in personality development in the
black community. The summit's speeches
and workshops may be able to offer
Washtenaw County authorities advice and
Oftentimes, conferences produce the
bginnings of many valuable ideas that may

never come to fruition. Such inactivity
could negate the effort organizers and par-
ticipants put in to the summit. Following
the four-day summit, organizers will hold
planning session to release an African
American Health Improvement Plan early
next year. In addition, the summit is the
first step in a plan sponsored by a state
grant to address health problems facing
the black community in Washtenaw
County The grant will also sponsor an
African American Health Guide, a
resource directory to be published and dis-
tributed this fall. It is important that coun-
ty authorities put the valuable ideas that
come out of the summit to use.
The summit also offers the University
the opportunity to lend its resources to the
cause of health issues. The University has

the medical and psychological facilities t
provide resources for studying key healt
issues. In addition, the Universit
Minority Health Initiative and the Turne
African American Service Council, th
offspring of the University's Tu
Geriatrics Center, could offer a great a
of information for the summit. Rectifying
significant social problems requires
community effort - the Universit
should pitch in its vast capabilities an
resources to help give back to the commu
The significant differences of healsl
and violent crime rates indicated by th
county's report are disturbing
Something must be done to ensure tha
the entire Ann Arbor community @1
reach its greatest potential. The summi
offers the community the chance to ban(
together and fight a social problem - it
organizers deserve commendation fo
their idea and the foresight to have a plas
to put into effect the ideas the summi

Out of reach
High tuition harms states' economic health
W hile British students will soon see state residents desiring to obtain a college
tuition for the first time, America education. By providing additional finan-
has long dealt with the problem of people cial aid and increasing the sizes of annual
being unable to deal with the cost of high- state appropriations, Michigan could
er education. begin a strong push toward increasing the
For too many Americans, higher educa- number of people that pursue their educa-
tion remains too expensive and thus, inac- tion past high school. In the past, a strong
cessible and impractical. A recent study by relationship between the size of the state
Wayne State University's Center for Urban appropriation and the strength of the state
Studies found that the population of and national economy existed. In 1995-96,
Michigan and the Detroit metropolitan state universities' budgets comprised of 57
area, in particular, came up short in the percent from state funds while tuition
number of people with college degrees. made up only 43 percent.
The state ranked 38th nationwide and With the economy flourishing in
Detroit came in 22nd out of the 24 metro- Michigan, the state must choose to invest
politan areas with populations of two mil- in the education of its citizens and thus, in
lion or more - a mere 18 percent of resi- its future. However, state officials must
dents have a college degree. ensure that solid financial support of pub-
Due to the nation's sharp turn toward a lic education is maintained during eco-
high-tech economy, the value and impor- nomic downturns as well as upswings.
tance of a college education is greater Maintaining educational expenditures will
than ever. Today, a high school diploma support long-term stability both educa-
not only fails to provide job security but tionally and economically.
often will not even provide holders with If state government leaders hope to
any feasible job opportunities. Michigan's rebuild the city of Detroit and sustain eco-
inability to adjust to the new educational nomic stability across Michigan, they
standards is not surprising given the sig- must advocate higher education for citi-
nificance of the automobile industry in zens. An encouraging first step might
the state's economy. The Big Three entail making college attendance more
automakers once offered Detroit numer- feasible for adults who felt that the oppor-
ous manufacturing jobs providing a liv- tunity for higher education disappeared
able wage where a high school diploma with their youth. Helping them re-enter
was sufficient. In the present job climate, school could help them achieve success
this has changed. A college degree is now and aid the state's economy.
an accepted standard among the American The state has the potential to drastically
workforce - making it difficult for those improve its record in college learning.
with only a high school diploma to get a State officials must play their part by con-
job. sistently allocating more government dol-
To resolve Michigan's education dilem- lars to public universities. Doing so will
ma, the state must address the cost of keep tuition down and allow state residents
attending higher education institutions. who presently are unable to access higher
Cost stands as a major obstacle faced by education a chance at getting a degree.

A dollar a day "

Federal funds will
ichigan parents might not mind one
of the fringe advantages of the
promised balanced budget agreed upon
last week in Washington. While the bene-
fits of a reduced deficit remain far in the
future, the state will enjoy a large windfall
under the fiscal 1997 budget signed by
President Clinton last Tuesday. Arriving in
the form of a $400 million grant to the
state's Medicaid program, the gift will
help Michigan provide adequate care to
the several thousand children presently
without health insurance.
Currently, there are an estimated
230,000 children in Michigan who lacked
health insurance for at least one year. The
number increases to 670,000 when consid-
ering children without insurance for at
least one month during the past year. The
numbers are especially disturbing in light
of strong evidence showing uninsured
children's health care suffering in compar-
ison to their insured counterparts.
Three years ago, Michigan moved
toward insuring its children's health when
it raised the maximum household income
under which families could be eligible for
Medicaid assistance. An estimated 70,000
children were allowed access to health
care through the maneuver. However, the
state did not move far enough. Even with
the higher income cut-off - $24,000
instead of $16,000 -most uninsured chil-
dren are from families just barely above
the new limit. These families earn too
much to apply for Medicaid, but are
unable to afford medical insurance on
their own. As a result, their children live
vulnerable to common ailments other fam-
ilies can afford to treat.
The $400 million gift from the federal
government will undoubtedly help more

aid state's children
children receive medical care. The stat
plans to expand Medicaid eligibilit
requirements, but officials must still final-
ize the details.
Medicaid officials should look to th
state of New York for clues about how to
proceed. The first item that stands out 9n
eligibility cap for Medicaid $11,500 above
Michigan's limit. The higher cap allows for
a greater percentage of working-class fam-
ilies to be eligible for Medicaid's benefits.
Another point of interest lies with the age
limit for children's eligibility under
Medicaid. In Michigan, this limit is 16
years of age, meaning dependent children
ages 17 and 18 cannot receive Medicaid-
funded care, no matter how poor their f-
ilies are. In New York, the comparable ge
limit is 19, providing care for poor and
working-class children until they are adults.
Even if Michigan takes these simple
steps, one more important stage remains.
Thousands of uninsured children remain
unprotected because their parents,
although eligible, do not take advantage of
the public-assistance programs. Whether
due to confusing eligibility standards or
parents' ignorance, the state needs to et
the word out to parents. At the same e
state officials should renew their drive and
commitment towards getting Michigan
children immunized. Although the state no
longer occupies last place in the United
States for child immunization rates, it still
lags far behind other states.
A golden opportunity has landed on
Lansing's doorstep in the the $400 million
grant. Michigan must use this money to
widen children's access to MedicaidAl-
lars and immunization, and thereby pro-
tect thousands of the state's most vulnera-
ble residents.

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