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Michigan Lawmakers Threaten Insurance Exchange

March 14, 2013

Many Republicans in the Michigan State Senate are disavowing their previous support for a health insurance exchange that would offer affordable coverage to thousands of low-income Michiganders, including direct-care workers.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), which was signed into law in 2010, requires the establishment of state exchanges by 2014 to help people shop for health insurance.

In 2011, the Michigan Senate voted to create an exchange, but the bill stalled in the State House. In recent days, many of the senators who once cast votes for an exchange are now backing off from their support.

Like several other Republican lawmakers who once supported the exchange, State Senator John Pappageorge (R) says he is having second thoughts after examining the “fine print.”

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder (R), however, supports a plan in which Michigan would accept $31 million in federal funding to set up and run the online exchange.

“Michigan’s uninsured low-wage workers — including thousands of direct-care workers — desperately need an exchange to help them easily shop for affordable health care coverage,” said PHI Midwest Director Hollis Turnham. “We urge the legislature to authorize the federal money required to build the exchange.”

Numerous business groups that opposed the ACA, including the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, have also backed the governor’s plan.

Medicaid Expansion Would Help Workers

Meanwhile, a PHI Michigan fact sheet (pdf) argues that Michigan should proceed with its planned expansion of Medicaid.

Accepting federal funds to expand Medicaid in Michigan would be a cost-effective way to provide health care to as many as 50,000 direct-care workers, the fact sheet argues.

“Expansion of Medicaid reduces uncompensated care, saves taxpayer dollars, and is good for the state’s economy,” the report says.

As originally passed, the ACA required states to expand Medicaid eligibility to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. But the 2012 Supreme Court decision that upheld the law also rendered Medicaid expansion optional.

In February, Snyder issued a statement declaring his support for Medicaid expansion.

“This makes sense for the physical and fiscal health of Michigan,” he said.

— by Matthew Ozga

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