March 20--LANSING -- The chances of the state cooperating with the federal government in setting up an Internet-based exchange for residents to investigate health insurance options dimmed as Republicans in the state Senate couldn't reach an agreement on the bill.
If the exchange doesn't pass this week, it will end up solely in the federal government's hands. Gov. Rick Snyder has urged the Legislature to pass the health exchange bill as a way for the state to have input on how the exchange will run and which insurance companies appear on the exchange. The web-based database will allow Michigan residents to investigate and buy health insurance required under the Affordable Care Act.
Without state involvement, customer service functions will be handled by the federal government, rather than the state, Snyder said, leaving Michiganders with sub-par access to help with insurance questions.
"I'd like to see us reject the bill and just default to the federally run exchange," said state Sen. Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton. "All we're debating here is who gets to handle the complaint desk, and I'm not standing in line for that."
The Legislature is on a two-week spring break beginning next week, and Snyder's office has said it will be too late to adopt and implement the state-federal model when legislators get back from break.
The Senate passed similar legislation last year, but it never made it out of the House Health Policy committee.
The House switched course last week and voted overwhelmingly to accept the $30.6 million from the federal government that will be used to set up the exchange.
But senators have come under intense pressure from tea party activists who oppose anything related to the Affordable Care Act. So, the GOP support for the bill seen last year is waning in 2013.
Although Republican senators met privately on the issue Tuesday, it's a 50/50 proposition that it will get voted on this week, said Amber McCann, spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe.
"We feel that it's something we could still be looking at after spring break," McCann said.
Contact Kathleen Gray: 517-372-8661 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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