Blue Cross Blue Shield

Politics & Government
6:48 am
Mon January 7, 2013

In this morning's Michigan news headlines. . .

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Blue Cross Blue Shield encourages legislation in new session

"The state's largest health insurer is back encouraging action on legislation enabling its restructuring after Governor Rick Snyder vetoed it. Snyder balked last month at the bill he proposed because of language added by lawmakers preventing insurers and businesses from providing elective abortion coverage in employee health plans. Both hope the legislation without the abortion provisions will be passed and signed into law early in the legislative session that begins Wednesday," The Associated Press reports.

Detroit search for police chief stalled

"The search for a new Detroit police chief appears to have stalled. Former Detroit police chief Ralph Godbee hastily retired amidst a sex scandal in October. Under the new city charter, the Board of Police Commissioners must first select search firms to vet potential candidates for chief. Police Commissioner Jerome Warfield says they’ve done that, and sent them to the mayor's office. But they’ve gotten conflicting signals from the administration about whether there’s money to go forward. A Bing spokesman declined comment on the matter for now," Sarah Cwiek reports.

Red Wings back on ice after lockout

"Peace came to the NHL over the weekend, and now pieces need to fall in place for the Red Wings. They will start a lockout-shortened, likely 50-game season within two weeks and training camp within a week after the league and the NHL Players' Association agreed in principle early Sunday morning to a 10-year deal after a 16-hour negotiation session that ended a 113-day lockout. The new collective bargaining agreement still has to be ratified, but from management on down, the overwhelming response was one of relief," The Detroit Free Press reports.

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Health
3:17 pm
Thu December 13, 2012

Changes could make Blue Cross Blue Shield a nonprofit mutual

Peter Luke of Bridge Magazine addressed various reforms to Blue Cross Blue Shield
echealthinsurance.com

The measure to make Blue Cross Blue Shield a nonprofit mutual is under way.

Peter Luke of Bridge Magazine spoke with Cyndy about health care changes in Michigan.

According to Luke, the reform would put Blue Cross into the hands of policy holders.

“They [Blue Cross Blue Shield] have 70 percent of the market share and in some forms of business, critical to this legislation, they have almost 100 percent. Most of their role is in administrative capacity. For 70 years they’ve been a benevolent trust established by the State of Michigan to be the insurer of last-resort and that was codified in 1980. What this law does is turn them into a nonprofit mutual so they’re no longer owned by the people of Michigan but by the policy holders.”

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Politics & Government
5:06 pm
Tue December 11, 2012

The bills we're not talking about: Right-to-work overshadows abortion, guns, and healthcare

The legislature is also considering dramatic restrictions on abortion
Rick Pluta Michigan Public Radio

These are some wild days in Michigan.

With thousands of protestors at the capitol, Right to Work has become the 1200 lb gorilla in Lansing: it makes the 600 lb gorillas look small.

In other words, with time still left in this lame duck session,  Michiganders could wind up with a whole slew of controversial new laws next year.

Here’s a short list:

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Politics & Government
9:00 am
Sat December 8, 2012

Commentary: What a week!

Lessenberry commentary 12/8/12

If you were writing a novel about politics, you couldn’t make this up. Last month a Democratic President was re-elected, easily carrying Michigan by almost half a million votes.

The same day, the state’s voters reelected a liberal Democratic Senator by almost a million votes, and Democrats gained seats in the legislature. Exactly one month to the day later, this same state passed laws destroying the union shop, and making Michigan a right to work state.

Did I think I would ever see this in my lifetime? Absolutely not. But then, I never counted on a black president, General Motors going bankrupt, or Pontiac going out of business.

We live in momentous times. And in the Michigan legislature, last week was a time of lawmaking at breathtaking speed. If there has ever been a lame-duck session anything like this one, I certainly don’t know about it.

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Politics & Government
2:03 pm
Fri December 7, 2012

Not just right-to-work, lawmakers passed boatload of bills yesterday

Kevin H. flickr

Right-to-work may have been the star of the legislative circus that took place at the Capitol yesterday, but it was just one of many passed by the House and Senate.

Here is a recap of some other bills that you might have missed:

The Religious Liberty and Conscience Protection Act

The bill, passed by the state Senate yesterday, would allow health care providers, facilities, or insurers to deny care base on religious, moral, or ethical objections.

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Health
11:02 am
Fri December 7, 2012

Why some seniors are sick over Blue Cross overhaul

Some seniors say the changes will hit them hardest.
photo by Anna Strumillo Phuket - Thailand www.fotopedia.com

A lot of Michigan seniors are not happy with some of the proposed changes to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

The legislature is overhauling Blue Cross, changing it from a charity to a state-tax paying business.

But some seniors say it could make their healthcare bills skyrocket, or even take away some of their health insurance plans all together.

Now, if your brain is starting to hurt at this point, don’t worry:  contrary to popular belief, you do not have to be a rocket scientist to understand this healthcare change stuff. Promise.

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Health
10:57 am
Tue December 4, 2012

Blue Cross Blue Shield legislation delayed

A state House panel has delayed a hearing, on a proposal to end the tax exempt status of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

The legislation would transform the charitable trust into a customer-owned non-profit.

The House Insurance Committee Chairman says lawmakers need to work out concerns with parts of the legislation.

The committee is expected to reconvene this week.

Supporters say the proposal would modernize Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, and allow it to be taxed and regulated as its competitors are.

Critics argue that it would reduce oversight of a company that controls 70 percent of the market.

The legislation passed the state Senate in October.

Politics & Government
5:00 pm
Sat November 24, 2012

Lawmaker: Michigan residents should get $5B from Blue Cross/Blue Shield

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A Republican state lawmaker says Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan should pay $500 for every Michigan resident as part of legislation that would convert the company from a charitable trust of the state to a customer-owned nonprofit .

Rep. Tom McMillin proposed Friday that the state's dominant insurer be required to transfer $5 billion to Michigan's 10 million residents as payment for the conversion.

Blue Cross says the conversion would help it better compete under the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

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Politics & Government
6:59 am
Tue November 20, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines. . .

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Schuette says Blues overhaul not enough to protect seniors

State Attourney General says the overhaul of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan needs more safeguards in order to protect seniors. The Detroit news reports,

Under legislation sought by Gov. Rick Snyder, the Blues could dramatically reduce its $200 million annual subsidy of the Medicare supplemental insurance by 2016, when a rate freeze Schuette negotiated expires.

After that, the Blues would contribute as little as $15 million annually to a new state-run nonprofit health care foundation for Medigap coverage made available only to Medicare recipients who prove a financial need, Schuette said.

Blue Cross says 70 percent of the 210,000 seniors receiving Medigap insurance would fail a means test to show a financial need for the subsidy, Michigan Insurance Commissioner Kevin Clinton said.

Benton Harbor considers eliminating police force to cut costs

"Two weeks after voters in Benton Harbor rejected a millage renewal, the city’s emergency financial manager is laying out a few grim options. Joe Harris told reporters Monday afternoon one option is eliminating the police force. The millage would’ve raised a little more than a million dollars this year alone. That represents twenty-percent of Benton Harbor’s yearly revenue," Lindsey Smith reports.

University of Maryland added to "Big Ten"

"The Big Ten athletic conference added the University of Maryland to its roster Monday. Rutgers University is expected to announce its plans to join the conference today. That will bring the total number of schools in the conference to 14, and is likely to mean big increases in revenues for the universities as well as the conference," Chris Zollars reports.

Politics & Government
4:35 pm
Mon November 19, 2012

Schuette: Changes to Blue Cross overhaul bills not enough to protect seniors

Bill Schuette for Michigan Attorney General

Michigan’s attorney general says state lawmakers must add more safeguards for seniors to legislation that would overhaul Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

Bill Schuette testified Monday before the House Insurance Committee.

Schuette said bills passed last month by the Senate did not do enough to make sure Blue Cross continues to offer Medigap plans to seniors.

The program covers costs that Medicare doesn’t.

The attorney general said the proposal would drastically cut funding for Medigap, and only requires Blue Cross to offer it through 2016.

“I think the last thing we want is to have skyrocketing Medigap rates, or Medigap disappear altogether,” Schuette said.

Blue Cross officials say the measure gives seniors plenty of time to switch to more comprehensive and affordable plans.

The legislation would end Blue Cross’ tax exempt status. In return, the state would have less oversight of the Michigan’s largest health insurer.

Politics & Government
11:04 am
Mon November 19, 2012

Blue Cross overhaul hearings in Lansing today

Blue Cross Blue Shield building in Detroit.
Wikipedia

Hearings on overhauling Michigan’s biggest health insurance provider continue today in Lansing.

Critics and competitors say other insurers have been forced to subsidize Blue Cross because the company negotiated contracts with many hospitals requiring them to accept payments lower than what they offer any other insurance company.

The practice led to anti-trust lawsuits and an order by the state insurance commissioner banning what’s called “most favored nation” clauses without his prior approval.

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Politics & Government
7:32 am
Wed November 14, 2012

In this morning's headlines. . .

User: Brother O'Mara flickr

In health news. . .

Officials with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan say the state Legislature must pass bills to overhaul the health insurer by the end of the year. Under the measures, Blue Cross would become a customer-owned non-profit, and would have to pay state and local taxes. The Lansing State Journal reports,

Even though it would lose its tax-exempt status, Blue Cross says the change in classification — and the lower government regulation that goes with it — is essential for it to be able to compete with other insurers under the Affordable Care Act.Under federal law, Blue Cross must have its products and rates ready by March for an online health exchange where people can compare and buy their own insurance plans, but the organization won’t make it because of the way it’s currently regulated by the state.

Meanwhile, as Rick Pluta reports, "Michigan is unlikely to meet a Friday deadline to tell the Obama administration if it will create a statewide online exchange for people to shop for health insurance. The alternative is for Michigan to become part of a federally managed exchange."

Tribe asks federal court to dismiss lawsuit to block Lansing casino

"A federal judge is being asked to dismiss a lawsuit aimed at stopping plans for a casino in downtown Lansing. The Sault Sainte Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians delivered its response this week to the lawsuit filed by Michigan’s Attorney General in September.  The lawsuit claims the casino project violates federal law as well as a gaming compact between the state and the tribe. The tribe says that’s not true. The tribe wants to resolve this legal challenge before asking the federal government to take the land around Lansing’s convention center into trust.   The land must fall into trust…before the tribe can begin construction of its casino," Steve Carmody reports.

Politics & Government
7:07 am
Tue November 13, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines. . .

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Blue Cross overhaul on the "lame duck" agenda

"Lawmakers in Lansing say they want to tackle some high-profile bills before this session wraps up at the end of the year. The state House is set to hold its first hearing Tuesday on a proposed overhaul of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. The measure would turn the state’s largest health insurer into a customer-owned non-profit, and end its tax-exempt status. Nothing is certain, but other items on the “lame duck” agenda could include a repeal of the personal property tax on businesses, legislation to fund roads projects, and a bill to replace the emergency manager law that voters rejected in last week’s election," Jake Neher reports.

Michigan Congressman Mike Rogers possible choice to head up CIA

"Media reports suggest Michigan congressman Mike Rogers could be on a short list of candidates to be the next director of the Central Intelligence Agency. David Petraeus’ abrupt resignation last week opened up the CIA director’s job. Multiple media outlets including the New York Times say Rogers is among those being considered to fill the post. Washington observers say Rogers, a Republican, could speed through the confirmation process. Rogers has been the chairman of the House permanent select committee on Intelligence since January of 2011. Rogers has not commented on the speculation," Steve Carmody reports.

New international bridge could be up and running in 5 years

"Governor Snyder's office and top Canadian officials are getting more information out about a proposed bridge between Detroit and Windsor. Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley and the Canadian Consul General spoke to a group in Grand Rapids about the bridge deal Monday. Calley says trucks could be crossing a new bridge as soon as 2017. Right now the bridge is awaiting permits from the US government," Lindsey Smith reports.

Politics & Government
5:13 pm
Mon November 12, 2012

Michigan lawmakers stay busy despite "lame duck" session

The Michigan House of Representatives
Lester Graham Michigan Radio

Lawmakers in Lansing say they want to tackle some high-profile bills before this session wraps up at the end of the year.

The state House is set to hold its first hearing tomorrow on a proposed overhaul of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

The measure would turn the state’s largest health insurer into a customer-owned non-profit and end its tax-exempt status.

House Insurance Committee Chair Pete Lund expects the chamber to pass some version of the bill before the end of the year.

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Politics & Government
8:55 am
Thu November 1, 2012

Commentary: Money, and more money

A week from now, the election will be over, we’ll have more or less digested what happened, and go back to contemplating the other daily dilemmas of life in our state.

There’s the issue of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, which wants to move from being a tightly regulated charity to being a normal non-profit, with much more freedom to do what it wants, and less responsibility to provide coverage for the uninsured.

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Law
5:00 pm
Wed October 31, 2012

Former state Attorney General Mike Cox sues Blue Cross Blue Shield

Blue Cross Blue Shield building on Lafayette in Detroit.
Wikipedia

Former state Attorney General Mike Cox says Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan illegally denies seniors access to certain plans.

Cox filed a class action lawsuit Wednesday against the state’s largest health insurer.

It claims Blue Cross denies access to its most popular Medigap plan to anyone with a retiree health savings account. Medigap is a program that covers healthcare costs that Medicare does not.

Cox said the policy unfairly forces some customers to buy more expensive plans.

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Politics & Government
8:13 am
Thu October 18, 2012

The week in Michigan politics

cncphotos flickr

This week Morning Edition host Christina Shockley talked with Michigan Radio's political analyst about the legislation to overhaul Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, results of a poll that looks at where Michiganders stand when it comes to the six ballot proposals voters will see in the next three weeks and the bankruptcy of U.S. operation of electric car battery maker, A123 Systems.

Politics & Government
7:31 am
Thu October 18, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines. . .

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Blue Cross Blue Shield overhaul passes Senate

"Legislation to overhaul Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan easily passed the state Senate Wednesday. The bills would turn the state’s largest health insurer into a customer-owned non-profit. Only four Senators voted against the package," Jake Neher reports.

Michigan's unemployment rates drops for the first time in 6 months

"Michigan’s jobless rate declined very slightly in September to nine-point-three percent. It’s the first drop in the state’s unemployment rate in six months. The rate is also a full percentage point below where it was at this time last year. The rate of unemployment and under-employment in Michigan is 17 percent. That number takes into account people who have quit looking for work, and part-timers who’d like full-time jobs," Rick Pluta reports.

Lawsuit claims flaws in Michigan's parole system

"A lawsuit filed this week alleges the state Department of Corrections has been too lax in supervising roughly 18 thousand paroled felons in Michigan. The lawsuit was first reported by The Detroit Free Press. It was filed by the family of an elderly Royal Oak woman who was murdered in her home. Two fugitives on parole have been charged with the killing," Rick Pluta reports.

Politics & Government
5:46 pm
Wed October 17, 2012

Michigan Senate approves overhaul of Blue Cross

Blue Cross Blue Shield building on Lafayette in Detroit.
Mikerussell wikimedia commons

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan Senate has approved a Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan overhaul that supporters say levels the playing field among health insurers and critics argue doesn't adequately protect elderly and vulnerable residents.

The Senate passed the legislation Wednesday. The House is expected to consider it when the chamber returns after the November election.

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Politics & Government
7:29 am
Fri September 28, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines. . .

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Schuette cautious about Blue Cross-Blue Shield overhaul

"Hearings continue at the state Capitol on the future of Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Michigan. Attorney General Bill Schuette showed up to urge a cautious approach to overhauling the state’s largest health insurer. The attorney general would give up a considerable amount of oversight under the plan proposed by Governor Rick Snyder. It would convert Blue Cross from a tax-exempt charity to a member-owned not-for-profit company. Bill Schuette says he wants Blue Cross and its assets audited to make sure this is a fair deal for Michiganders. Schuette says he’s not out to stop the changes. Governor Snyder and Blue Cross executives want the switch done by the end of the year. They say the changes are needed because the new federal health care law will change the mission of the Blues," Rick Pluta reports.

More on the EM saga

The debate over emergency managers and emergency financial managers has been heating up. The Michigan Supreme Court last month ruled a union-backed referendum to repeal the law could go on the ballot. "The leader of the Michigan Senate says he and fellow Republican colleagues are armed with a proposal to replace the state law that lets emergency managers take over local governments in case voters strike it down in November. Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville told The Associated Press yesterday that a draft is under legal review. The behind-the-scenes effort aims to keep a form of the contentious law on the books. Richardville says it acknowledges some concerns by critics, who say it takes too much power from local leaders struggling with budget deficits," the AP reports.

Trying to uncover death of former Teamsters boss

The Department of Environment Equality work to uncover the death of a former Teamsters boss.  "Soil samples will be taken from beneath a Detroit-area driveway in the search for the body of former Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa. The Department of Environmental Equality plans to start its work this morning in Roseville. Authorities are investigating a man's claim that he saw a body buried under the driveway 35 years ago," the AP reports.

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