Free Mammograms Available

Proos PinkRibbonPlateAmong Michigan women, breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer and the leading cause of cancer deaths. Nearly everyone knows someone who has been impacted by this terrible disease.

I recently supported designating October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month in Michigan.

Early detection of breast cancer is critical to improving the chance of survival, yet very few Southwest Michigan women ages 40 and older get annual mammograms.

I encourage all at-risk women to take this important and life-saving step. I also urge eligible uninsured women to take advantage of a program that provides free mammograms on select days in October.

The Pink Saturdays Breast Cancer Screenings program has screened more than 9,300 women and expects to provide 1,000 free mammograms this year. To be eligible for a free screening, a woman must be uninsured, be age 40 to 64 and meet certain income guidelines.

Residents may call 1-800-873-0649 to schedule a free screening or visit for more information.

I am also proud to announce that “Pink Ribbon” license plates are now available. I co-sponsored the law last year to create this plate to raise funds that will help provide low-income women access to cancer screening services and follow-up care, including treatment if necessary.

This October, let us celebrate those who have won their fight with breast cancer, support those currently battling this serious disease and remember the friends and loved ones we have lost.


Program Offers Free Skiing for Michigan 4th Graders

SkiingWinter too often result in kids staying indoors, watching television.

To help get children active, the Michigan Snowsports Industries Association (MSIA) is giving fourth graders the opportunity to get three free lift tickets to 20 participating Michigan ski areas.

I encourage Southwest Michigan families to take advantage of this chance to introduce young kids to new activities and experiences or just to have fun in our great outdoors.

The Fourth Grade Ski & Ride Passport is part of MSIA’s “Cold is Cool” program, which is dedicated to improving the health of the children in the state by offering winter outdoor activities for all Michigan kids and their families.

In order for fourth graders to use the free lift or trail pass coupons, a paying adult must accompany them.

Up to two fourth graders can ski free with each paying adult. Although the skiing is free, MSIA charges a $15 printing and shipping fee for each passport ordered.

Applications for the passport have been sent to all Michigan elementary schools. Parents and children can also pick up the applications at participating MSIA ski shops or by visiting the group’s website at

On the website, families will find valuable information on other money-saving programs, ski equipment and Michigan lodging. One link offers updated information on ski and snow conditions at Michigan resorts, as well as details on amenities.

Even if you are unable to participate in the program, I encourage you to consider getting out and enjoying Michigan skiing.

Proactive Steps in 2012 About Creating Jobs Protecting Children

Concussion Bill SigningAs we look forward to 2013, it is a time to reflect upon 2012. Just as with our families, when we look at our state we celebrate the milestones and ponder where to improve.

The proactive solutions we achieved in 2012 are helping to revitalize our economy and attract job creators to Michigan. We removed the barriers to competition that were hurting Southwest Michigan small businesses and again passed a state budget that provided essential services while living within our means.

As a result, our children will have more opportunities for education and employment; more freedom; and more protections from harm.

Retailers and pharmacies are now consulting an online tracking system before selling products containing pseudoephedrine, which is commonly used to make methamphetamine. The effect was that millions of dollars of meth production was blocked while families were still able to get needed cold medications.

To ensure that the health of young athletes is always the top priority, my concussion initiative was signed. It sets guidelines on when an injured child can return to play and creates an awareness program to help train and educate coaches, parents and athletes. We also enacted “Erin’s Law” to help prevent child sexual abuse by ensuring children have age-appropriate education to recognize and talk about abuse.

We have accomplished much in the past two years to transform and reenergize Michigan, but more remains to be done. I will continue to listen to the people about the challenges we face and learn about innovative ideas to improve our state. Together I am positive that we can build upon the achievements of 2012 and make 2013 a year of greater prosperity and opportunity.

Lame Duck Session

Listen and LearnWTVB – RADIO

There’s a lot to be decided by the end of the year by state lawmakers. State Senator John Proos says the lame duck session is always interesting, as those who are leaving Lansing are freer to vote their conscience with no worries it will impact their re-election chances.

Proos says he expects action will be taken to craft a new emergency manager law, taking what everyone likes about the now-repealed Public Act 4 and addressing what critics didn’t like about it.

Other items that could come up during lame duck include replacing the personal property tax and moving forward on healthcare reform now that President Obama has secured a second term and the Affordable Care Act will remain in place.

Non-Partisan Pamphlet on Statewide Ballot Proposals Available

On Nov. 6, each Michigan voter will have a chance to play an important role in establishing public policy and setting the direction for our state. Not only will voters have the opportunity to select their elected leaders, but you will be asked to consider six statewide ballot proposals.

Proposal 12-1 is a referendum on whether to keep the Emergency Manager Law and the remaining proposals would amend the Michigan Constitution.

By now you have undoubtedly seen the various ads on TV or in your mailbox by the numerous groups trying to persuade you.

I invite Southwest Michigan voters to contact my office to obtain a non-biased, non-partisan newsletter containing information to help familiarize you with the pros and cons of these six proposals.

The pamphlet includes the actual language that will appear on the ballot along with brief analyses of the important issues at hand.

I want to make it clear that the analyses do not necessarily reflect my views. The information was approved by both Republican and Democratic staff with the intent of giving you the strongest arguments for and against each proposal so that you can make an informed decision on the issues.

Keep in mind that this pamphlet is only about the six statewide ballot proposals. Depending on where you live, there may also be other local or regional questions on your ballot.

Southwest Michigan voters who would like this informational pamphlet may contact my office at 517-373-6960 or by email at: The newsletter is also available as a free download from my Senate website at: Click on “Statewide Ballot Proposals”.

Teaming Up with Connect Michigan to Increase Broadband

Connect Michigan has teamed up with local leaders to launch the Southwest Regional Broadband Initiative to help meet the Internet needs of area families and businesses.

This will allow residents to access information and communicate more efficiently – opening a world of opportunities. Most importantly, it can help create jobs and stimulate our economy.

Broadband transcends boundaries by impacting economic development, education, health, transportation and our quality of life. Recognizing the potential positive impacts of high speed internet, the Southwest Michigan Regional Planning Commission is sponsoring this initiative to expand broadband access and use across Berrien, Cass and Van Buren counties.

I recently attended the initiative’s kickoff meeting with more than 30 officials from various economic development organizations, schools and colleges, local governments and internet service providers.

The Southwest Michigan Regional Broadband Initiative team, with support from Connect Michigan, will meet regularly to plan for and address broadband improvements to benefit local residents and businesses.

As the designated entity for broadband mapping and planning in our state, Connect Michigan is a public-private partnership between the Michigan Public Service Commission and Connected Nation.

It works with local governments, businesses and residents to achieve the goal of increasing broadband service in under served areas. For more information about what Connect Michigan is doing to accelerate technology in Michigan, visit

Physical Therapy Lobbies Proos for Direct Access

Life in Balance Physical Therapy President Alex Markovich coached State Sen. John Proos in Pilates. Life in Balance, 20 North Second Street, has been in Niles for 12 years and added locations in Mishawaka and South Bend.

By John Eby

Niles Daily Star

Life in Balance President Alex Markovich would like to see Michigan enact direct access to physical therapy, which 47 states already have, he told state Sen. John Proos Monday.

Life in Balance Physical Therapy President Alex Markovich Monday morning coached state Sen. John Proos in Pilates. Life in Balance, 20 North Second Street, has been in Niles for 12 years and added locations in Mishawaka and South Bend.

“There would be so many opportunities to save money through prevention and serve our community where our hands are tied,” Markovich said. “Even a massage therapist with a six-month certificate can see people off the street and I can’t with a master’s degree. I wanted to make you aware of the financial burden lack of direct access puts. We have to have a doctor referral.”

Patients are seen for 80 minutes at an initial evaluation, then 40 minutes at every session after that.

“Physical therapy winds up saving money,” Markovich said.

Without direct access, someone with lower back pain sees a doctor, which might take a week to arrange for an eight-minute exam, resulting in a prescription for medication.

There might be another appointment or two for tests.

“Weeks go by without any relief,” Markovich said, “and now it’s a chronic issue when they start physical therapy. Why don’t we do physical therapy first? Because there’s a perceived threat of this up-and-coming, evolving field getting into an arena of new territory. You’ve got to look at what’s best for the customer and who’s paying the bills. There are no studies showing direct access increases health industry costs or malpractice in states that have it. We are trained to assess the musculoskeletal system but need to be empowered.”

Proos, R-St. Joseph, asked how the Supreme Court imminent decision on the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, would impact Life in Balance.

“Something needs to be done, obviously,” Markovich said. “It’s a tragedy when people live in fear for their health care benefits. But the way this bill was pushed through with the economy the way it is scares me. The government can’t even pay its light bill. I don’t buy the savings. It seems short-sighted and very politically driven by the president. I don’t think it’s constitutional to require someone to buy (health insurance). However, Medicare and the commercial insurance industry are making positive changes in prevention and incentivizing quality of care.”

“Reimbursement based on results and quality is the way to go,” he said. “I’d like to create a system which reduces cost first before we add to the system and make it harder to manage. The public is fed up and paying attention.”

“The best way to save money is to never spend it in the first place,” Proos said.