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Panel urges higher alcohol taxation.

Panel urges higher alcohol taxation

Michigan could rein in escalating health care costs by raising tobacco and alcohol taxes in order to discourage smoking and drinking, a panel recommended Friday to Gov. James Blanchard.

The group also suggested Blanchard consider prohibiting tobacco and alcohol advertising, make sure family planning services are widely available, encourage businesses to establish smoke-free work sites and study a universal health care program.

The Governor's Health Care Cost Management Team said its 33 recommendations could reduce the increase in health care costs each year by $360 million, or 2 percent.

But Rich Studley, vice president of government relations for the Michigan State Chamber of Commerce, said the tax increases would do little to hold down health care costs.

"Our feeling is on Nov. 7 the voters were very clear about how they feel toward higher taxes and the answer was no," he said, referring to the defeat of the polls of two sales tax increases.

"Michigan is already a high-tax state and these increases would make us even less competitive for new jobs and are not likely to accomplish much in the way of health care cost containment."

Study is expensive

"The study of a universal health care program is also a bad idea because of the expense and complexity of such a program," he said.

Blanchard spokesman Tom Scott said the governor has yet to examine the recommendations from the panel, which he formed in September 1988, and declined to commit the governor on any of the specific proposals.

"While the United States has the most expensive health care system among developed nations, it is not clearly the best, and it is not universally accessible," the report said.

"The health status of Americans is not noticeably better than that of citizens in some developed nations that spend much less money on health care. Further, an estimated 37 million Americans do not have health care insurance coverage at all, with approximately 1 million of them living in Michigan."

Health care in Michigan cost $17.6 billion in 1987, 168 percent more than a decade earlier and 9 percent higher than the per capita national average, the report said.

An aging population; drug, alcohol and tobacco use; the epidemic of acquired immune deficiency syndrome; medical malpractice insurance; and lack of consumer awareness of health care costs are to blame, it said.
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Title Annotation:Michigan
Publication:Modern Brewery Age
Date:Dec 11, 1989
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