Jan. 31--The state Senate voted unanimously today to help transform Blue Cross Blue Shield into a nonprofit mutual insurance company that will have to begin paying taxes to the state and local governments.
The bill was the exact same one passed by the Senate last year, but vetoed by Gov. Rick Snyder after the House added language that would require customers to purchase a special rider if they wanted abortion coverage.
"It's Groundhog Day," said state Rep. Joe Hune, R-Hamburg Township. "I'm sorry these bill are before us again, but here we are."
Blue Cross handles 70% of the health insurance business in Michigan, a huge chunk because of its status as the insurer of last resort -- a designation that it no longer will have under the Affordable Care Act.
The transformation gives BCBS the same status as other insurance companies in the state.
"They ultimately will be responsible for paying taxes to the state and local governments equal to about $100 million," Hune said. "This is good public policy, and it's a long time coming."
The bill now moves to the state House for consideration.
"The legislation passed today reflects a significant investment of time and effort by the entire Legislature," Andrew Hetzel, Blue Cross vice president for corporate communications, said in a written statement. "It's an outcome of a long, bipartisan, deliberative, inclusive process by lawmakers to include multiple points of view in fashioning a modern, efficient system of health insurance regulation for Michigan."
Detroit Free Press business writer Zlati Meyer contributed to this report.
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