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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Michigan Consumers for Healthcare (MCH) Announces Support for Creation of MiHealth Marketplace
State’s Largest Healthcare Consumer Coalition Supports Senate Approach but Seeks Improvements
LANSING, Mich. — As the Legislature resumes hearings this week on Senate Bill 693 to create a state health insurance exchange, Michigan Consumers for Healthcare (MCH), the state’s largest healthcare consumer coalition, today announced its support for the approach proposed in the legislation.
The Coalition is urging improvements to the bill that would ensure a dominant pro-consumer presence and culture on the healthcare exchange’s governing board and streamlined access to healthcare coverage for the state’s poor and underinsured.
“As the consumer voice for affordable, accessible, quality healthcare in our state, Michigan Consumers for Healthcare wants to see the proposed MiHealth marketplace expand access, increase competition, reduce premium costs, be customer-service oriented and work for small businesses and individuals alike,” said MCH Director Don Hazaert. “While there is much to support in the current legislation, and we are grateful to Gov. Rick Snyder and the Senate Health Policy Committee for providing the leadership necessary to get this critical process underway, we believe the bill can be improved to protect the healthcare needs of consumers.”
The MCH coalition has more than 80 member organizations – including AARP of Michigan, American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, Detroit Wayne County Health Authority, Disability Network/Michigan, Michigan Minority Health Coalition and Michigan Universal Healthcare Access Network — dedicated to advocating on behalf of the healthcare consumer.
The federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires each state to create, by 2014, a health exchange, an online resource where individuals and small businesses can review plans, and purchase and enroll in health coverage. The federal government will create exchanges for states that fail to comply with the law. Gov. Snyder wants Michigan to create its own exchange and avoid federal intervention.
“AARP supports states implementing health insurance exchanges in accordance with the Affordable Care Act,” said AARP, Associate State Director for Health & Supportive Services Andrew Farmer. “Having an effective state exchange that focuses on the consumer’s best interest will help ensure the affordability of individual and small group health coverage. Michigan’s implementation of an exchange is an important step toward AARP’s vision of ensuring affordable, quality, secure health care for all.”
SB 693, introduced by state Sen. Jim Marleau, R-Lake Orion, would create the MiHealth marketplace exchange. Under the bill, the exchange would be a non-profit corporation with a governing board appointed by the governor, the speaker of the Michigan House of Representatives, and the Michigan Senate majority leader. The state Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation would certify health plans that are permitted to be on the exchange marketplace. Senate hearings on SB 693 resume Thursday.
MCH calls on lawmakers to consider modifications to Senate Bill 693 that include:
“Having credible and reliable people to explain health care options to both workers and employers has been shown to be an important part in boosting enrollment in other states with health care expansion programs," said Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute (PHI) Michigan Senior Workforce Advocate Tameshia Bridges. "It's important to go beyond providing simply an 'Orbitz for health care' by educating consumers about their options and making sure they receive coverage that best meets their needs."
MCH, which has spent the past year building its diverse coalition and establishing itself as the voice of healthcare consumers across the state, used today’s announcement to officially kick off its federal healthcare reform advocacy efforts.
“This legislation can be strengthened by making enrollment in Medicaid and other state-supported programs a seamless process, rather than by requiring individuals to opt in,” said Michigan Minority Health Coalition Executive Director Othelia Pryor. “It’s a benefit to the state when those who are eligible for Medicaid and other programs, such as MIChild, are actually enrolled. Research overwhelmingly demonstrates that people who have consistent access to health care services are less likely to develop serious, costly medical conditions.”
For more information, go online to http://consumersforhealthcare.org. Follow the coalition on Twitter (@michealthcare), like the coalition’s Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/consumersforhealthcare) and subscribe to the coaliton’s YouTube channel (http://www.youtube.com/user/consumershealthcare).
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