Group gathering signatures for amendment for universal Michigan health care.

The folks at the Michigan Messenger blog (a great blog for any fellow Michiganders who want to keep up with the goings on in the state) have an entry up about a petition drive to get a universal health care amendment added to the state’s constitution:

“We are certainly creating a lot of excitement across the state,” said Valerie Przywara, a field organizer with Michigan Universal Health Care Access Network, a statewide network that promotes comprehensive health care.

John Freeman, chairman of the of the ballot committee, said political leaders in Washington and Lansing have failed to deal with a broken health care system. The constitutional amendment, he said, would require that state leaders craft a “Health Care Security Plan” that ensures that people who currently have health insurance won’t lose it, provides health insurance coverage for those without it and controls and reduces health costs.

“Far too many people are one serious accident or a pink slip away from bankruptcy and losing their health care, and that’s wrong,” Freeman said last week. “No one that works hard and plays by the rules should have their families or business cast into financial ruin because they don’t have access to affordable health care.”

The petition drive has picked many supporters, including Gov. Jennifer Granholm. Also supporting the drive are more than two dozen organizations, including the Service Employees International Union, AARP Michigan, Michigan Unitarian Universal Social Justice Network, Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS), Michigan Disability Rights Coalition and the Michigan Osteopathic Association.

U.S. manufacturers, especially automakers, are finding it hard to compete globally because of the high cost of supplying health care to employees and retirees. Foreign governments are helping foreign auto companies compete by providing health care for employees to make their cars cheaper and U.S. cars more expensive. There are also an estimated 750,000 to 1 million Michigan residents with no health care at all.

I have to admit that with the state’s economy in the shape it’s in now that it’s hard to imagine how we could possibly pull something like that off without driving the state into bankruptcy, but damn if I don’t think it’s something the state could really benefit from if we could find a way to do it. If I come across any of the petitioners I’ll probably add my signature to the list.

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