Healthcare exchanges championed by Governor Snyder

The state of Michigan is encouraged to create individual and small business healthcare exchanges designed to provide insurance options.

In his State of the State address on January 18, 2012, Michigan Governor Snyder called for the Legislature to pass bills that would enact two provisions of the Federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. The Act, sometimes referred to by the generic term, “health care reform,” contains multiple provisions meant to make health insurance more affordable and accessible.

The enabling legislation, Senate Bill 693, would create the infrastructure to allow Michigan to implement individual and the small business health care exchanges. These exchanges are online marketplaces that allow individuals to compare private health plans, research eligibility on tax credits or health programs, and enroll in a public or private health insurance plan. Small businesses are able to compare benefit packages for their employees from a variety of plans because the packages are standardized for ease of comparison. The exchanges also would provide more insurance plan options for small businesses to offer their employees.

Under the Act’s American Health Benefit Exchanges and Small Business Health Options Program Exchanges, states must create their own exchanges by January 1 of 2013 or end up with exchanges operated by the federal government. Enrollment in exchanges is scheduled to begin January 1, 2014.

Although Michigan has not yet passed the enabling legislation, Governor Snyder did establish the MI Health Marketplace in September of 2011. The Marketplace’s purpose is to oversee the development and implementation of Michigan’s exchanges. Additionally, Michigan has received a $999,772 federal Exchange Planning grant that is being used to put plans in place for the state exchange. The state was also granted $9.8 million in Exchange Establishment funds. These funds will assist the state in conducting market analysis and developing technology to support the exchanges.

Meanwhile, Senate Bill 693 awaits action in the House of Representatives. House Republicans say they want to wait for the outcome of a Supreme Court case in which a number of states, Michigan included, have challenged the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The case is scheduled to go before the Court in June 2012.

Check back often with Michigan State University Extension to read more updates about health care reform.

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