Traverse City Record-Eagle

March 5, 2013

Editorial: Marketplace vote puts residents first

Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — For Michigan’s political class, it’s a concept — ignoring “political parties (and) ideological beliefs” while “accepting the responsibility to govern while facing reality,” as Michigan House Speaker Jase Bolger of Marshall put it in a statement.

Bolger struck a welcome tone of putting good governance ahead of partisan politics in talking about an online health insurance marketplace for state residents that should help thousands of people buy the health insurance individuals will have to carry starting in 2014. Some may even receive income-based federal aid to help pay their premiums.

This is largely for people who don’t have health care through their employers, a group that has for decades been most at risk of financial ruin because of illness.

Last Thursday the Republican-led Michigan House voted 78-31 to spend a $31 million federal grant to participate in the exchange. The federal government will run a website and call center, while the state will handle some customer service and oversee insurers with health plans on the exchange. The online health insurance marketplace was part of the federal health care law, commonly known as Obamacare.

The House vote clears the way for the Senate to vote this week.

Sixteen states plan to set up their own websites — which Republican Gov. Rick Snyder wanted to do until being blocked by House Republicans last year — while 24 states will give the federal government full control. Snyder had argued that it even if politicians didn’t like Obamacare, it would be better for state residents to have an exchange run by Lansing than Washington.

While House Republicans blocked Snyder’s effort last year and conservatives linked to a national group fought the move this time, Bolger and the House put citizens first, despite the pressure.

Americans for Prosperity, a conservative group adamantly opposed to Obamacare, said “Unscrupulous lawmakers have made it clear that their weakness for federal tax dollars surpasses their commitment to reducing federal spending and debt.”

That doesn’t have anything to do with individuals and families getting the health care they need, of course; it was rewarding to see so many House members put state residents ahead of ideology over federal spending. People matter, and the people who elected Michigan lawmakers expect them to put state interests first. If that’s being unscrupulous, we need more of it.

That doesn’t mean lawmakers have to put aside their convictions about spending, debt and Obamacare. It does mean the needs of Michigan residents must be fairly addressed and that reality counts.

The issue: n@Chart: Michigan health insurance exchange Our View: n @Chart:The needs of Michigan residents must be fairly addressed