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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Detroit News Report on Health Exchanges

Here is a very important article.  It demonstrates that efficient and reasonable compromise is possible in partisan government.  Speaking as a local government administrator, who is ethically bound to an efficent and non-partisan approach to government at the local level, I hope and pray that our two parties will rise to the call of statesmanship and govern this State and the Nation in a spirit of cooperation and compromise. 


Gov. Snyder rightly embraces health exchange

Snyder bucks Legislature, provides coverage information

Snyder )
In deciding to go forward with state-federal partnership for setting up medical insurance exchanges mandated under the 2010 Affordable Care Act, Gov. Rick Snyder is acting in the best interests of Michigan citizens. There is, in fact, no other choice. With the deadline approaching, an intransigent House Republican majority has blocked legislation and federal funding for his proposed website where uninsured Michiganians could have shopped for health care coverage.
Snyder had envisioned a setup similar to Travelocity.com, where travelers can book hotel, airline and rental car reservations. He argued that would be an easy way to satisfy the Obamacare mandate without breaking the bank or subjecting the state to what probably would be a more onerous set of federal criteria, should Michigan fail to have its health exchange under way by Nov. 16. A $9.8 million federal planning grant would cover most or all of the cost.
There's a lot to be done before the deadline hits, and possibly too little time already. With no state action on setting them up, Michigan would lose control of its destiny; the feds would be required to step in with their own version of health exchanges for us.
The state Senate, also dominated by Republicans, saw the wisdom in Snyder's approach and approved enabling legislation in November 2011. Then House majority leaders, strongly opposed to the federal act, got tied up in ideological knots. They first decided to take no action on the Senate measure until the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled on an anti-Obamacare lawsuit by several state attorneys general, including Michigan's Bill Schuette.
After the high court's July finding — that the law is constitutional for the most part — they decided still more hearings were needed before they could act on the governor's proposal.
Now, with Labor Day fast approaching, Snyder has come to the realization the House has sentenced his plan to death by a thousand questions. House leaders also have rejected the governor's request that they approve a federal planning grant available to Michigan for the exchanges. Following political advice from Schuette, House members clearly are banking on the long-shot hope Mitt Romney will replace Barack Obama as president, Republicans will gain control of the U.S. Senate and Obamacare will be overturned.
We agree with their objection to the overreach and dictates of the federal health care act, especially the mandate for uninsured folks to buy health coverage or face a federal income tax penalty that theoretically would help offset costs of the free care hospitals are obligated to provide those who need treatment but can't pay. Unfortunately, the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld nearly all of the act.
That makes Snyder's pragmatic middle-of-the road plan the best medicine for this state. Health insurance is complicated. Shopping for it is hindered by limited competition here in Michigan. There's value in an online site where customers could sort among what should be a broader array of plans for coverage that best suits their budgets and medical needs. As Snyder says, this is a good idea irrespective of the federal health law. If Obamacare were abolished and/or it turned out the website was little used, the state could take it back down with little muss or fuss.
It's too bad House members couldn't see their way to the adoption of such a plan. There now is likely to be a lot more federal involvement in the setting up of Michigan's health insurance exchanges. Snyder's intriguingly uncomplicated approach might be in jeopardy. But he's smart to partner with the feds and hold on to as much state control over the outcome as is possible under these less-than-ideal circumstances.

From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20120827/OPINION01/208270304#ixzz24qIXu4L8

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