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White House fixes map error after missing Upper Peninsula

9:27 PM, Nov 8, 2013   |    comments
This map provided by the White House at a Medicaid meeting failed to include the Upper Peninsula. U.S. Rep. Dan Benishek, R-Crystal Falls, took issue. / www.whitehouse.gov/share/medicaid-map
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WASHINGTON (Detroit Free Press) - First, a U.S. senator questions the worth of a couple of Up North national parks and now this: A map put out by the White House gets rid of the Upper Peninsula entirely.

U.S. Rep. Dan Benishek, R-Crystal Falls, pointed out Friday that the Obama administration may be in need of a geography lesson after posting a map on whitehouse.gov on Wednesday that shows the 24 states that have not expanded Medicaid coverage for low-income individuals under the Affordable Care Act.

Michigan - which is among the states that has expanded coverage - was all mitt, no U.P. But later Friday the map was corrected.

As Benishek, a lifelong Yooper, rightly points out, President Barack Obama should know where the Upper Peninsula is since he visited Marquette on Lake Superior about 2 ½years ago. (Why he went in February, we're still not quite sure.)

"Considering President Obama visited the U.P. only a few years ago, you would think he would remember to include it in the maps on his website," said Benishek, who went on in a prepared statement to rap the Affordable Care Act, which he has long opposed to.

The White House did not immediately respond to Benishek's complaint or the incorrect map.

Marquette's Mayor Pro Tem, Robert Niemi, said the U.P. has been left off maps before.

"I've seen it enough that it doesn't really upset me," he said.

Rick Wills, 60, a custodial worker who lives in Gwinn, about 25 miles from Marquette, chuckled when a reporter told him Friday about the oversight.

"We don't have a large population up here," he said. "We're not on the way to much of anything. So that being the case, you've got to figure at times that people are going to miss you a little bit."

Russell Magnaghi, professor of history and director of the Center for Upper Peninsula studies at Northern Michigan University, said leaving the U.P. off the map is akin to leaving off the top half of California or Florida's panhandle.

"I think a lot of outsiders don't realize that Michigan includes the U.P.," he said. "They should, but I don't know if our study in geography in schools today has been very good.

"If the government is doing something, (if it's) something put out by the White House, they should have a little better knowledge of the configuration of the country."

It's not the only slight, however, that's been felt Up North as of late: Last week, U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., released a report questioning the worth of dozens of national parks that he says wastes money, and two of them in northern Michigan - Isle Royale National Park in Lake Superior and Keweenaw National Historic Park on the Keweenaw Peninsula - made the list.

Todd Spangler is a reporter for the Detroit Free Press

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