Traverse City Record-Eagle

July 14, 2012

Another View: Revise state health care

By The Detroit News

---- — Some House Republicans are tempted to continue delaying approval of a Michigan-based version of the health insurance exchange required under the 2010 federal health care act, in spite of a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding the law. That would be a disservice. It's now time to put aside wounded feelings and approve the minimalist, market-based plan developed by Gov. Rick Snyder and passed by the Senate in November.

House Speaker Jase Bolger, R-Marshall, indicated to The Detroit News that in the wake of the 5-4 Supreme Court decision, he intends for his caucus to end its eight-month holdout and reluctantly forge ahead with voting on the Senate legislation. That's not only a proper statesman-like reaction to the ruling, but it recognizes that the odds against overturning the so-called "Obamacare" act have now become longer.

At the same time, Bolger's spokesman said there's no official Republican caucus position on when the House votes will be taken. Rep. Gail Haines, R-Lake Angelus, muddied the waters by claiming the House GOP may yet decide to do nothing until after the November election, in hopes Mitt Romney and Republicans might seize control of the federal government and kill the health care act.

Attorney General Bill Schuette, letting his political stripes outshine his role as the state's top legal adviser, is urging Republicans to continue stalling. He, of course, is state campaign co-chairman to Romney, who has vowed he'd do his best to repeal the health law if elected president.

Schuette is offering bad advice on several counts.

First, Snyder's proposed Travelocity-style website, where consumers could shop for health insurance to meet their needs and budgets, would be good for Michigan irrespective of the federal law. Michiganians who lack insurance, whether individuals or smaller businesses, may want to avail themselves of the service and should be given that opportunity.

Second, there's no guarantee Obamacare will be repealed even if Romney wins. Republicans would also have to retain control of the U.S. House and not just wrest the U.S. Senate away from Democratic control, but win a super-majority capable of overcoming the inevitable filibuster. ...

Finally, time is running out on Michigan's ability to chart its own course. If the state fails to have its version of an insurance exchange up and running by only about a week past the Nov. 6 election, the federal government is required to step in with what's almost certain to be a costlier and more bureaucratic setup. ...

Michigan is also in danger of losing a $9.8 million federal planning grant that would cover the cost of developing the web-based exchange Snyder envisions. ...

The House should waste no more time passing and sending the legislation to the governor for his signature.

The Detroit News