July 18--A health care reform organization today called on Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder to issue an executive order to create a state health insurance exchange, one day after a top Republican House leader said the state needs more time to set up the program.
Michigan Consumers for Healthcare, a Lansing non-profit, issued a statement encouraging Snyder to give his own legal go-ahead for an exchange, a largely Web-based program to compare and purchase insurance, as well as to determine eligibility for Medicaid.
President Obama's Affordable Care Act requires states to create the exchanges by 2014 or risk having the federal government run the programs.
Michigan cannot create the program unless Snyder signs an executive order or the Legislature authorizes the state to move ahead.
In a statement to the Free Press, Snyder press spokeswoman Sara Wurfel said the governor hoped the House had started to move the program along today, but he would continue to encourage legislative leaders to make progress on creating an exchange.
"While we do wish the House would have taken action today, we'll work to help address and resolve the additional questions so they are ready to take next steps," the statement said. The statement repeated Snyder's much-expressed hope that Michigan, not the federal government, will run an exchange, so it can be tailored to Michigan needs.
The developments followed a statement issued Tuesday by House Speaker Jase Bolger, R-Marshall, saying he would not move ahead on an exchange until the House holds hearings on the issue. "We won't be drive by artificial deadlines, we won't be motivated by politics and we won't act based solely on federal promises for money," the statement said.
Michigan has $9.8 million in federal funds that will remain on hold until the governor or legislature provide the legal go-head needed to create an exchange. The program is designed to serve a half-million uninsured people who buy their own insurance, as well as small businesses. It is a key provision of the federal health overhaul law.
Michigan Consumers for Healthcare, which represents 155 member organizations, said in a statement today that delays creating the exchange promise to threaten the ability of consumers and small businesses to get access to affordable health insurance in the future.
"The delay of health exchange legislation that has been created by needless obstruction by a handful of misguided politicians has put Michigan consumers in a weak position with respect to establishing a state-based health exchange," the statement said.
"Michigan could have been on the road to a well-planned, consumer-friendly state-based exchange by now, but we have made no progress to that end. At this late hour, there is scarce time to get a state-based exchange right."
Contact Patricia Anstett: 313-222-5021 or email@example.com
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