Skip to Content
Home | news | Debbie's Blog

Debbie's Blog

Dingell Update: 09.05.2023

Dear friend, 

There are trees in my neighborhood that are already red and orange. Weather forecasters tell us that fall has begun. Michigan won its first game of the season (and so did Michigan State) and all my high schools are cheering for their teams again as well. Tailgates bring my favorite junk food. Have been to several cider mills, had too many doughnuts and the bees are out in full force. Party City is advertising Halloween decorations and costumes and kids are standing at bus stops. Summer, I barely knew you, but you are gone. Even 90-degree temperatures (after a week of idyllic 70-degree weather) cannot hide that another season is over. Quite frankly, it’s left me a bit melancholy as we watch time pass but is also a reminder that we need to live each day to its fullest. 
Spent the last week working hard, seeing lots of people, addressing serious challenges and being grateful that I can work hard and I have the energy and passion which motivates me every day. Labor Day weekend was busier than I would have thought but I got many places enjoying a weather perfect weekend. Celebrated local harvests at multiple farmers markets, several birthday parties, jazz festivals throughout the district and most importantly, thanked labor in making America strong as I walked and spoke at the annual Labor Day March and attended numerous picnics thanking the working men and women of this country who are the economic backbone of our country. 
Once again, I mourn the death of two men I deeply respected. Bill Richardson, Member of Congress, Governor, Secretary of Energy, Ambassador and friend to John and me. The only man I let smoke a cigar in my house. I first met him in 1982 and worked with him on many projects over the years. His energy, passion and smile always motivated you as he cared deeply about many issues. Jimmy Buffet always made me smile, his concerts made me at least pretend to be laidback and for that night I was, and “Margaritaville” is still playing in my head. Had key lime pie with my neighbors in his memory.
One more week until the House of Representatives reconvenes but have been working many issues. Here are some of the highlights from last week.

Power Outages and Public Comments Requested: Improving Electric Reliability 

Many of the communities in my district were still recovering from tornadoes and storms earlier last week. Most frustrating, while water and sewage in your basement is deeply disturbing, continued power outages are simply unacceptable. Many of my constituents have 8 to 13 power outages this year alone, small businesses are closing and honestly people say to me if you cannot keep my refrigerator running, why do you want me to buy an EV. Valid questions.
First, I am concerned about the increasing number of storms and our level of preparedness. I am working with others to address this issue, and this is one of my current top priorities. And how do we prepare for more frequent storms that bring seven inches of rain in four hours? Secondly, it is very important you make your voices heard to the Michigan Public Service Commission. We will be holding a joint public forum in the next few weeks, but they also have opened a public comment period. I am urging you to engage and let them know how you feel.
After our recent storms and flooding that left thousands without power, The Michigan Public Service Commission announced next steps in its ongoing efforts to address challenges to electric reliability, seeking comment on a straw proposal for utilities whose customers experience repeated, lengthy power outages and announcing the start of an audit that will examine all facets of the electric distribution systems of Consumers Energy and DTE Electric Co.
The Commission, concerned in particular about the length of time it takes the state’s two largest utilities to restore power after an outage and the significant numbers of utility customers experiencing repeat outages each year, is seeking comment from stakeholders in its ongoing work to improve reliability metrics through the MPSC’s Financial Incentives and Disincentives workgroup as part of the MI Power Grid Initiative
Comments are requested by 5 p.m. Sept. 22, with reply comments due by 5 p.m. Oct. 20. Comments should reference Case No. U-21400. Comments may be mailed to Executive Secretary, Michigan Public Service Commission, P.O. Box 30221, Lansing, MI 48909, or emailed to Learn more here. Please let them know how you feel! 
Medicare Price Negotiation

For far too long, Americans have paid the highest prices in the world for medicine. When Congress passed the Inflation Reduction Act last year, we took solid steps to address this issue both in capping the cost of insulin at $35 a month and to establish a program that allows Medicare to directly negotiate prescription drug prices to get a better deal for seniors.  
Last week, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released the first 10 drugs selected for Medicare Price Negotiation. This is an important first step to bring down the cost of prescription drugs, hold drug companies accountable, and provide much-needed relief to American families. Too many hardworking men and women are forced to choose between groceries or their prescriptions, a decision no one should have to make in the wealthiest country in the world. 
The drugs selected for Medicare Price Negotiation are: Eliquis, Jardiance, Xarelto, Januvia, Farxiga, Entresto, Enbrel, Imbruvica, Stelara, and Fiasp; Fiasp FlexTouch; Fiasp PenFill; NovoLog; NovoLog FlexPen; NovoLog PenFill. The negotiations with participating drug companies will occur in 2023 and 2024, and any negotiated prices will become effective beginning in 2026. Medicare enrollees taking the 10 drugs covered under Part D selected for negotiation paid a total of $3.4 billion in out-of-pocket costs in 2022 for these drugs.
Ensuring People Have Access to Health Care

When the Public Health Emergency came to end in May after COVID, states are requiring individuals to show that they are still eligible for Medicaid coverage. At least 8 million Americans are expected to lose Medicaid coverage this year, and about 75% of them will be dropped because of paperwork problems, not because they are no longer eligible. I do not want that to happen in Michigan and we can already tell there is a problem.
More than 80,500 Michigan residents lost Medicaid coverage in the first full monthly accounting of Medicaid re-enrollment efforts in the state, which amounts to 37 percent of those scheduled to re-enroll in June, according to the latest data from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. The vast majority of those falling off the rolls — 65,400 — lost coverage because they didn’t receive or fill out and return forms to the state to maintain eligibility for the health insurance, according to the state. (The other roughly 15,000 were dropped because they no longer met the income or asset eligibility.)
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) started sending out renewal packets in April, and they will continue doing so on a rolling basis until 2024. You must complete the renewal process by mail or online through MI Bridges. If you do not respond to a renewal or if MDHHS does not have your correct address, your Medicaid (including MiChild and Healthy Michigan plans) will stop. Please use MI Bridges or the county MDHHS office to confirm that they have your correct contact information.
If MDHHS ends your Medicaid coverage, but you believe you are still eligible, you should follow the instructions in the notice you receive without delay to request an appeal hearing. If you file an appeal before the “effective action date” in the notice, your coverage will not be interrupted before the hearing. Even if you miss the effective action date, you can still appeal if you get the hearing request form to MDHHS within 90 days. You may also be able to re-apply before your hearing date. For more detailed information, consult Michigan Legal Help.
Drug Shortage Roundtable with Michigan Medicine 

Last Tuesday, I held a roundtable with Michigan Medicine to discuss the impacts of and potential solutions to the cancer drug shortage affecting patients and health systems across the country. We have a serious drug shortage in this country that’s leaving thousands of patients in Michigan and across the nation in distress. I’ve heard from many of them who can’t access drugs like lidocaine and steroids, let alone life-saving antibiotics and cancer drugs. 
No one should have to panic and fight to find the medications their doctors know are necessary for their treatment. This conversation demonstrated again the importance of Congress acting to bring home our pharmaceutical supply chains, incentivizing the production of generics, finding ways to ensure we are understanding why shortages are happening, getting earlier alerts, helping with broader distribution, and many other issues.
Earlier this year, the Food and Drug Administration reported a nationwide shortage of two critical cancer drugs – cisplatin and carboplatin. This shortage is fueled in large part by a halt in production by an overseas manufacturer. This past May, I led a letter with Rep. Tim Walberg that was signed by all members of the Michigan congressional delegation calling on the FDA to take immediate action to address the drug crisis. We learned the FDA is trying to use all existing authorities to alleviate this crisis, but it’s clear we need to be doing a lot more to mitigate drug shortages and ensure they do not continue to persist.
This summer, the Energy and Commerce Committee held several hearings on the reauthorization of the Pandemic and All Hazards Preparedness Act that’s supposed to ensure our nation is prepared to address health threats. I was very loud during consideration and continue to be about drug shortages policies not being included in this legislation, since this is a threat to our public health. 
Southeast Michigan is home to some incredible health systems, and I know Michigan Medicine is working around the clock to serve patients and get them the medications they need. I was stunned to learn that while the FDA tells us there is an issue with approximately 125 drugs, the reality for many Medical Centers the number is exceeding 500 drugs. This is simply unacceptable. I am working on legislation to address this issue with colleagues on both sides of the aisle. I will continue to work closely with Michigan Medicine and other experts to address and find solutions to this crisis, and I’m thankful for the important work they’re doing every day to serve our community and beyond.
Michigan LCV Inflation Reduction Act Roundtable

On Wednesday, I joined Michigan League of Conservation Voters to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the  Inflation Reduction Act, the single largest investment in clean energy, environmental justice, and climate actions in American history. The IRA has already created more than 170,000 good-paying clean energy jobs and is ensuring our communities are stronger and more resilient to the effects of the climate crisis, which we are seeing with increasingly catastrophic floods, fires, and other weather events. We discussed how to best work together to ensure these investments reach the communities that need them most, especially historically underserved areas. 

Visit to Huron Valley Steel

On Friday I visited Huron Valley Steel in Belleville to tour their plant and learn more about their work recovering, recycling, and processing scrap metal, an environmental and economical alternative to sending this metal to a landfill. During this meeting, I was briefed on a specific issue facing some recycling operations, including Huron Valley. The U.S. Mint started a program called the Mutilated Coin Redemption Program (MCRP) in 1911, allowing the recycled materials industry to redeem damaged coins accumulated during recycling processes. The program was suspended in 2015 due to concerns over fraud and counterfeiting and reopened briefly in 2018 with new procedures to address these concerns but was suspended again in 2019. The industry has tried to work with the Mint to enhance security measures, but the U.S. proposed a new rule in May 2021 excluding domestic recycled materials companies from MCRP. 
My Republican colleague David Joyce of Ohio has been working to keep that rule from being promulgated and instead pave the way for constructive discussions to restart the MCRP program under existing regulations, creating an opportunity for businesses to work with them and return these coins to the mint for redemption and recycling. I will be working with David. Watching the mutual processes that separates all the different kinds of material is impressive. After being shown millions of dollars in coins, it’s clear the government must do something to address this problem. It was an interesting morning.
Women’s Center of Southeast Michigan

Last week I spent time at the Women’s Center of Southeastern Michigan which is dedicated to the economic and emotional support of women, girls, and families. Women in crisis have access to help from a therapist, career coach, divorce specialist, family law attorney, or financial adviser in times of need. No one is turned away because of cost. I’m thankful for all they do.
The staff of the Women's Center discussed with me post-COVID continuation of telehealth; preservation of clean ground water; and concerns related to mental health access for lower-income community members. They are incredibly devoted and know the difference they are making in so many women and families lives and discussed issues with me that are important in helping to ensure they can deliver. They offer support to women of many backgrounds and particularly in times of need, perhaps a new mother, someone going through divorce, a single parent household, domestic abuse, loss of job just as examples. Often, in these emotionally challenging times a helping hand makes the difference and too many don’t have access to the help they need. 
It’s a reminder too that mental health symptoms such as depression and anxiety can lead to job loss or dropping out of school and have a cascading effect on the ability to pay rent, buy groceries, meet utility bills, and make car repairs. Women access counseling at this Center report that they are twice as likely to have suicidal thoughts than other Washtenaw County women. Likewise, individuals who are food- or shelter-insecure; who have lost an income; who fear for their safety or health, may need basic services as much as they need counseling. About 18% of clients in their sliding-fee counseling program routinely run out of food before the end of the month and 15% do not have a permanent place to live. Forty percent have a disability. Everyone deserves support and the Center works hard to help women achieve financial and emotional health. They have made a difference in so many people’s lives and we need to help them make sure they have the tools they need to help others.
Investments in EV Transition

Last week the Department of Energy (DOE) announced $15.5 billion in new grants and loans to support the U.S. transition to electric vehicles. To keep America a global leader in EVs and manufacturing, we must ensure electric vehicles, their batteries, all their components, and their infrastructure are built here at home. This funding will support our auto workers and strengthen our domestic auto industry in the transition to electric vehicles, and make sure we’re maintaining strong labor standards and investing in the communities that have long been supported by auto jobs. 
The Domestic Manufacturing Conversion Grant Program, which I expanded and modernized as part of the Inflation Reduction Act, is specifically designed to ensure auto communities and those who have built their lives on the auto industry are not left behind. I will continue to work with the Administration, with manufacturers, with labor, and all our partners to guarantee the transition to EVs is a just one.
Addressing Gun Violence
Last week, I met with the Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention at the University of Michigan. This is an area I care deeply about having grown up in a house that should not have had guns in it, but married to a man who was a sportsman and supporter of the second amendment. As someone who knows the danger of a gun in the hand of someone who should not have had one, and endured moments where I was sure we would all die, I devote a lot of my work to this subject. The recent death of a women in Saline, who was a victim of domestic abuse and who had tried to get a protective order, the system didn’t work, a man who shouldn’t have had a gun did and another person was senselessly murdered. I am also deeply concerned about the number of murders in Ypsi and Ypsi Twp. this year, especially involving young people. We must address these issues and we cannot just go to our corners and spout the same old talking points. It shows no understanding of the issues and time has shown accomplishes nothing.
Launched as a University of Michigan presidential initiative in 2019 and an Institute in 2021, the Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention engages the breadth of expertise across the University of Michigan, with input from nonacademic stakeholders, to generate knowledge and advance solutions that will decrease firearm injury across the United States — all while respecting the rights of responsible, law-abiding firearm owners. As firearm injury rates continue to increase, there is a great need for data-driven solutions. For serious public health problems, such as motor vehicle crashes, our nation has turned to scientific evidence to prevent injuries, and firearms should be no different.
Much more can be done to address this problem, and the Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention is uniquely positioned to harness research, scholarship, and work with communities to inform research, programs, and policies that better protect people. I talk to everyone, try to learn and am looking for answers and policies that might help this very serious problem we have in too many communities. We need to start with understanding the core issues. Domestic violence remains for me my core focus, but I care about our young people and they need hope, understanding and answers.
Back to School

As students are returning to the classroom, I have participated in a number of giveaway backpack events sponsored by different community organizations including Rotary, Lions, Exchange Clubs, local merchants, and the school system itself. But I am hearing and learning that many parents cannot afford all of the school supplies their children require. We know the cost of many things has gone up and families whose paychecks aren't going as far continue to feel the squeeze. In a recent Morning Consult report, only 36% of parents say that they can afford their kids' back-to-school supplies, compared to 52% who said so in 2021. This deeply concerns me.
According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), families of kindergarten to 12th-grade students are expected to spend an average of $890.07 on back-to-school items in 2023, a new record high. In 2022, families spent, on average, $864.35, or only about $26 less than they may spend this year.
Another issue that worries me is teacher spending money from their personal pockets.  According to the National Education Association, more than 90% of teachers have spent their own money on school supplies and other items their students need. In 2020, educators spent an average of $500 out of pocket for classroom supplies not provided by the school or district, and it is expected that number has risen since the pandemic. 
A survey done by My eLearning World estimates that teachers spent an average of $820.14 out of pocket on school supplies during the 2022-2023 school year, the largest amount ever. We know how much our teachers care.
If you are a teacher who buys classroom supplies or other educational resources with your own money, you may be eligible for the Educator Expense Deduction to help cut costs by writing off up to $300 in unreimbursed expenses for the classroom. While the amount is not considered a credit, it does allow teachers to reduce their taxable income, knocking a few dollars off their annual tax bill. Click here to learn more and check your eligibility.
Labor Day

It was an honor to walk with my friends in labor in the annual Labor Day Parade and a long and storied tradition. We honor the hard work and dedication of the labor movement that has forever changed the workforce we see today. We remember and honor the contributions and sacrifices of all who have fought for workers’ rights from the shop floor, in the streets, and on the picket line. It’s because of the Labor Movement all workers have the 40-hour work week, better wages, safer workplaces, health care, paid leave, and so much more. I will always stand side by side with labor and fight for hardworking men and women.
The new week begins, and for us in Michigan all eyes are on the UAW negotiations. We will see what happens. In the meantime, I still am working many issues in my district, am proud that I have visited all 48 cities and townships in my district during this district work period. Let me know what is on your mind, if you would me to attend a marketing and we have our fall townhalls ahead as well. Happy Fall! 
Photos of the Week

As always, I want to hear from you.  What do you want me to know? What are you thinking about? Please contact me with any questions, ideas, and concerns. Share them with me at this link, or by calling one of my offices in Ann Arbor, Woodhaven, or DC:

Ann Arbor: (734) 481-1100
Woodhaven: (313) 278-2936
Washington, DC: (202) 225-4071
Back to top