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Sen. Colbeck: Healthcare option could finance roads

State Sen. Patrick Colbeck

What if there were a way that state government could fix the roads, repair potholes in Healthy Michigan, stretch school dollars, free up more resources for local government and reform auto no-fault? How about one that would accelerate job growth? It turns out that one tool does it all. What is that tool? Direct Primary Care.

Direct Primary Care eliminates the middleman for routine healthcare services and re-focuses healthcare on the doctor-patient relationship. It provides better care for less money. In fact, at least 20 percent less.

Michigan is seeing rapid growth in Direct Primary Care service providers in the wake of the passage of MI Public Act 522 of 2014 to protect these providers from insurance regulations. An estimated 150 doctors have already adopted the direct primary care business model in the state of Michigan and more are asking about it as word spreads. Direct Primary Care is good for doctors, good for patients and good for employers seeking quality health care options for their employees.

How could it help fix our government policy potholes?

We spend $664 million per year to provide health insurance for over 51,000 state employees. Savings of 20 percent free up $133 million per year.

We spend $17 billion per year on Medicaid for over 2.4 million citizens of our 10 million citizens. Saving 20 percent frees up $3.4 billion per year, of which almost $1.4 billion comes from state revenue.

We spend $1.25 billion per year on healthcare costs in education. A 20 percent savings frees up $250 million per year, or over $167 per pupil.

We spend an estimated $775 million per year on local government healthcare. A 20 percent savings frees up $155 million per year for our communities to hire more policemen and firemen.

Each of us spends $150 per vehicle per year on no-fault auto insurance. Healthcare services are the principle purpose of no-fault insurance. A 20 percent savings should reduce the cost of no-fault insurance by up to $30 per vehicle per year. A reduction of 20 percent in the liabilities for the current $18 billion Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association Fund would free up $3.6 billion for further reductions in insurance premiums.

Last but not least, Michigan businesses spend an estimated $31 billion per year on healthcare. A 20 percent savings frees up $6.2 billion per year for employers to invest in their employees and help their business achieve a competitive edge over businesses in other states. This would have a tremendous impact on job growth in Michigan. This job growth would in turn generate additional tax revenue to fill all of the potholes simply by getting more people back to work.

In short, Direct Primary Care could be used as a "Swiss army knife" tool to fix many of the policy issues facing the State of Michigan. As we expand the use of this tool throughout our state, Michigan has an opportunity to be at the center of a free market healthcare revolution. This revolution will reverse today's trend towards less care and more money to one that provides better care for less money. Now, isn't that a worthy pursuit?

A Republican state senator from Canton Township, Patrick Colbeck is the author of the law now known as Public Act 522.