Traverse City Record-Eagle

Michigan

March 22, 2013

Mich. Senate: No partnering on health care exchange

LANSING (AP) — The U.S. government will fully run a health insurance market in Michigan after Republican senators on Thursday decided against Gov. Rick Snyder’s call to partner with federal officials on consumer assistance and oversight of health plans offered in the exchange.

It was the last day to act before lawmakers take a two-week break. Because the GOP-led Senate refused to spend a $31 million federal grant for the partnership exchange — a key component of the contentious 2010 federal health care law — the state will have to spend about $8 million of its own money to link computer systems to the federal exchange, Snyder spokesman Kurt Weiss said.

“We can’t submit our plan on time and thus won’t be approved to run the consumer assistance program which is a core component of the partnership exchange,” he said.

The exchange will be used to determine people’s eligibility for Medicaid and — if they buy insurance on the website, through a call center or in person — whether they qualify for income-based aid to help pay their premiums.

Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, said there was “resounding disapproval” of the legislation among 26 Republicans who dominate the 38-seat Senate.

“There’s just real concerns that the federal government is not prepared to enact what they have kind of forced at us,” he said. “For us to sign up and say we can do it better when we don’t even know what all the things are that are going to be required, we’re just not on board with that.”

It is the second time Snyder, a Republican, has been unable to persuade the GOP-led Legislature to help create an exchange.

The Senate got behind his call for a state-controlled market in 2011. But Republicans who control the House resisted throughout 2012.

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