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Michigan Gov. Snyder to move forward on health exchange

June 29, 2012
Associated Press

LANSING (AP) - Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder on Thursday urged lawmakers to work with him to set up an online site where individuals and small businesses can comparison shop for private health insurance now that the U.S. Supreme Court has largely upheld President Barack Obama's federal health care law.

The Republican governor said in a statement that he didn't agree with everything in the law, which he says doesn't focus enough on promoting wellness and restraining health care costs. But he wants to work quickly to set up Michigan's online marketplace so the state "can make decisions regarding what will be covered as opposed to Washington, D.C., making those decisions for us."

Republican House Speaker Jase Bolger said he would work with Snyder's administration to set up a state-run health insurance exchange, though he said he was "mad and disappointed" with the ruling.

"Having the state establish a health care exchange is not something we wish to do, but we cannot stand idly by and hand over our citizens' health care to an overreaching federal bureaucracy," the Marshall lawmaker said.

Although the GOP-led Senate passed a measure allowing the exchange to be created, Republicans who control the House refused to let state officials use $9.8 million in federal planning dollars until after the court ruled. The House could approve spending the money when lawmakers return to session for one day on July 19.

At least one conservative group, Americans For Prosperity-Michigan, vowed to fight the exchange. It said it would send campaign literature into more than 20 House districts and three Senate districts asking if the lawmakers who hold those seats - many of them Republicans - are "Obamacare collaborators" who approve spending money to set up an exchange.

Fact Box

Affordable Care Act has already had an effect in state

Hundreds of thousands of Michigan residents already have benefited from the law passed in 2009, according to the federal government. Some examples:

-More than 23,000 Michigan seniors and people with disabilities have saved $17.6 million this calendar year on prescription drugs because of the law, an average of $757 per person. The money goes to help residents with medical costs after they hit the Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage gap, the so-called "doughnut hole."

-More than a half-million Michigan seniors have received a free preventive health care service so far this year.

-Around 1.8 million residents now receive preventative services with no co-pay.

-Around 57,000 more young adults in Michigan under the age of 26 are on their parents' health insurance plans.

-Around 7,000 small businesses get federal tax credits for offering health insurance to their employees.

-An estimated 500,000 more Michigan residents will qualify for Medicaid coverage, largely children and low-income residents, state officials say. The federal government will pick up most of the additional cost.

-Six Michigan health centers have been awarded $3.7 million from the federal government to help expand access to care for 59,431 additional patients.

-Around 114,000 Michigan residents will get $13.9 million in rebates from insurance companies this summer because of a rule that requires insurance companies give rebates if they don't spend at least 80 percent of consumers' premiums on medical care and quality improvement. The rebates will average $214 for 65,000 Michigan families.

Michigan has been planning for a state exchange as much as possible with $1 million from a federal grant. But it also has been talking to federal officials about setting up a federal exchange where the state handles just some of the responsibilities, such as customer service, because it's running out of time to create its own exchange. More than half a million uninsured Michigan residents are expected to buy private insurance through the exchange once it's operational in 2014.



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