LANSING (AP) - Republican Gov. Rick Snyder's administration is considering partnering with the federal government to run a health insurance exchange because Michigan is running out of time to set up its own if the U.S. Supreme Court holds up one of the key provisions of the federal health care overhaul.
Michigan House Republicans have refused to let state officials use $9.8 million in federal planning dollars to start setting up the MI Health Marketplace, saying they're waiting to see whether the court strikes down any or all of the Affordable Care Act on Thursday.
But state Licensing and Regulatory Affairs director Steve Hilfinger, who Snyder tasked last year with creating the state's online insurance marketplace, has warned for months that Michigan could run out of time to get a state health exchange approved by January as the federal law requires. Snyder is one of few Republican governors to acknowledge considering a possible state-federal partnership to get an exchange in place.
"I'm just trying to be a pragmatist here," Snyder told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
Snyder has expressed support for the idea of a health insurance exchange that would set up a way for small businesses and individuals to compare private health insurance policies and buy them online, much as they would shop for an airline ticket or hotel room. But he wants to give a nonprofit company the authority to set up the exchange and have it running by 2014.
State officials have estimated more than a half-million Michigan consumers would purchase a private policy through an exchange once it's up. About 1.27 million Michigan residents - 13 percent - didn't have health insurance in 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
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The state so far hasn't been able to do the detailed information technology work required to map out an exchange. If the health insurance exchanges are upheld by the Supreme Court, Michigan and other states would have to apply for additional funds to get the marketplace up and running. The last day to apply for those funds is Friday, but later grant application dates are expected to be set.