Michigan Senate Chair Discusses Health Insurance Proposals

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MichiganSenate Health Policy Committee Chair Tom George (R) on Thursday recommendedthat lawmakers take action on three provisions intended to manage Michigan's individualinsurance market, including some proposed by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, the Detroit Free Press reports. About 322,000 state residents betweenages 18 and 64 have individual policies -- "a growing number of whom areforced to buy their own insurance as they lose jobs or as employers dropworkplace health benefits," according to the Free Press(Anstett, Detroit Free Press, 4/25).

BCBS estimates that the individual health insurance market could grow to 25% ofall policies sold in the state in the next seven years. BCBS, the state'sinsurer of last resort, has recommended creating a high-risk insurance poolthat would spread the risk of covering people with medical problems among otherinsurers (Anstett, Detroit Free Press, 4/24). BCBS claims the pool would limit for-profit companies from"cherry-picking" the healthiest patients and leaving it to cover thesickest residents.

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Representatives from several consumer advocacy groups appeared before the statehealth committee on Wednesday and said a high-risk insurance pool wouldincrease insurance premiums for the self-insured and make coverage unaffordablefor those who need it most (Rogers, Detroit News, 4/24).

On Thursday, George said only policies that have the most support and will providethe greatest benefit to the consumer should be adopted. He said that the stateshould implement stronger protections for consumers purchasing coverage andthat BCBS should be allowed to increase rates more easily, as commercialinsurers are able to do. In addition, he recommended a three-year study toresearch the state individual insurance market.

State Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop (D) on Thursday met withrepresentatives of BCBS, private insurers and Michigan's HMO organization, Aetna, to"broker a compromise" over the various proposals. Representativesfrom BCBS and Aetna's Michigandivision confirmed the meeting but declined to provide details of theirdiscussion with Bishop (Detroit Free Press, 4/25).

Reprintedwith permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign upfor email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health PolicyReport is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J.Kaiser Family Foundation.

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