Go Michigan!

Every once in a while, I read a news report that makes me smile. You know, the kind where common sense actually prevails (few and far between in our politically correct world and liberal biased media). Such was the case with this story out of Michigan. Five years ago, Michigan amended its Paternity Act to include the following (specifically referring to children born out of wedlock):

If medicaid has paid the confinement and pregnancy expenses of a mother under this section, the court shall not apportion confinement and pregnancy expenses to the mother. After the effective date of the amendatory act that added this subsection, based on the father's ability to pay and any other relevant factor, the court may apportion not more than 100% of the reasonable and necessary confinement and pregnancy costs to the father. If medicaid has not paid the confinement and pregnancy expenses of the mother under this section, the court shall require an itemized bill for the expenses upon request from the father before an apportionment is made.

The court order shall provide that if the father marries the mother after the birth of the child and provides documentation of the marriage to the friend of the court, the father's obligation for payment of any remaining unpaid confinement and pregnancy expenses is abated subject to reinstatement after notice and hearing for good cause shown, including, but not limited to, dissolution of the marriage. The remaining unpaid amount of the confinement and pregnancy expenses owed by the father is abated as of the date that documentation of the marriage is provided to the friend of the court.

To sum, if the state or Medicaid pays for the birth of a child born out of wedlock, the state can go after the father to recoup the costs. However, if the father marries the mother, he is exempt from paying for the birth. The law is actually "an incentive to maintain the sanctity of marriage". When have you heard about anything like that recently? A law intended to maintain the sanctity of marriage? Go Michigan!

Now, enter Gary Johnson and Rebecca Witt, who apparently live together but are not married. Four years ago, Witt gave birth to a daughter. Johnson is the father. The state of Michigan paid for the $3,800 birth because Witt was on Medicaid at the time. But now, under this law, the state is going after Johnson, saying "Pay up. Either marry the mother or pay the bill". (And, by the way, the daughter in question is only #2 of 3 children for Witt and Johnson).

The mother's (Witt's) response is classic:
I don't think anybody should tell me when to get married. I would like to have a nice wedding, and I can wait for it.
The only thing even more funny to me is Johnson's (the father's) response to that:
Johnson said he understood the state wants to promote marriage for parents but he respects Witt's position. "It's a woman's dream to have the best wedding she can have," he said.
Hmm. I have an idea. Pay the stinking bill. What, you don't think that anyone should tell you what to do, when you should get married? But you think you can do whatever you want and make others pay for it? Shack up and create a baby and bill the state for it? Whatever happened to personal responsibility? I'd love to see a return to personal responsibility in our country, and Michigan seems like a pretty good place to start. Michigan's economy is tanking harder than probably any other state. There's not a lot of money to go around and pay for everyone else's irresponsibility. Perhaps the economic downturn will be a good thing if it returns common sense and personal responsibility to our country.

Either that, or Michigan should just pay for their nice wedding. I mean, marriage is a fundamental "right", isn't it?


Jillsywillsy said...

But they are going to pay it all back in taxes later. (Where's a little rolling-your-eyes smiley when you need it?)

Maybe next they will go after all the doctors and lawyers that had all their babies on medicaid while they were in school.

The Wizzle said...

Well, I agree that the state does not have the right to tell them to get married, or when. I think her reason for not being married is a pile of crap, but that's my opinion I guess.

I do think it's perfectly reasonable to expect the parents of a child to pay for that child's medical expenses (and, you know, their own) if they can "afford it", as defined currently by the law.

I don't honestly know what I think about this. To my mind, if two people have been cohabiting and having children and have not chosen to get married, then incenting them to do so via financial means isn't going to change their values system, or make them "good people" (to vastly and sarcastically oversimplify things). That doesn't mean we shouldn't encourage behaviors that have been shown to stabilize society and provide better environments for children...I just don't know if it would actually help. Seems like it might just create even more ugly custody battles later when these couples end up divorced anyway.

Man, I'm feeling cynical today, inauguration be damned! :)

Anonymous said...

here here, Rachel. People don't need incentive to get married. People who get married because of incentive are morons - and will indeed get divorced later.

big.bald.dave said...

All married people get married because of incentives, just maybe not financial ones. :)