health care exchange

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DETROIT - Federal health officials say about 300,000 Michigan residents have signed up for health care through the federal exchange, most with financial help.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell told reporters Tuesday that the 299,750 sign-ups as of Jan. 16 represent those who have selected a health plan or re-enrolled, not paid. Of those, 33% enrolled for the first time.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A federal court ruling today could affect tens of thousands of Michiganders who got health insurance through Obamacare.

More than 237,000 of the 272,000 Michiganders who signed up for Obamacare selected a plan through the marketplace with federal financial assistance.  The tax credits helped subsidize health insurance payments for low- and moderate-income people.

A computer screen showing in action.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

That's one of the lessons drawn from a report put out by the law firm Mehri & Skalet.

The author of the report, Jay Angoff, once led the U.S. Health and Human Services office in charge of implementing the Affordable Care Act.

Angoff looked at the amount it cost to set up health care exchanges in each state along with the number of enrollees in each state through March 31, 2014.

By doing that, he came up with a “cost-per-enrollee” for each state’s health care exchange.

Overall, the average cost-per-enrollee was $922. The average cost was higher for states with their own exchanges, and lower in states with the federally-run exchange. / YouTube

It’s been more than a month since the Affordable Care Act’s insurance marketplace has open, and to say the rollout has been problematic would be an understatement.

With the glitch-ridden website, and the natural confusion that comes with breaking new ground, it’s no wonder that many insurance-seekers don’t even know where to begin to find health insurance under the ACA.

Enter Don Hazaert, the director of Michigan Consumers for Healthcare. MCH is one of four navigator agencies in Michigan for Obamacare.

But what does a navigator do? What can’t they do? And where do Michiganders stand with their healthcare?

Hazaert met with us in the studio, to discuss how those looking for coverage for Michigan actually do it.

For more information, visit or any of the websites below:

Listen to the full interview above.

cncphotos / flickr

This week in Michigan politics, political analyst Jack Lessenberry and Morning Edition host Christina Shockley discuss the government shutdown, glitches in the launch of the health insurance marketplace, and the deal for the state to take over Detroit's Belle Isle.

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How the government shutdown will affect Michigan

  • Several food and other assistance programs for the poor will be affected sooner than most.
  • Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and veterans’ health programs will not be affected by the shutdown.
  • An unknown number of federal employees in Michigan are being furloughed.
  • Michigan’s National Parks will have to close.

More information on the shutdown can be found here.

Michiganders can shop for health plans today

"Officials will release premium information for 73 Michigan health plans today. The release coincides with the first day of a six-month enrollment window," the Associated Press reports.

New chief of police in Flint

Flint has a new police chief.

"James Tolbert was appointed to the job yesterday, three days after Flint Police Chief Alvern Lock announced his resignation. Tolbert comes to Flint from Detroit, where he served as deputy police chief," the Associated Press reports.

Courtesy of Children First

Michigan's new healthcare exchange goes live next Tuesday (October 1), and the White House put out a sneek peak of sorts.

It’s a snapshot of prices Michiganders could pay for what are expected to be some of the most popular plans.

In terms of cost, Michigan is projected to be below the national average.

The Detroit Tigers won their division championship last night, and there’s good news for Democrats in that. This year, they can root for the team to win the World Series. Last year, that wasn’t the case.

You see, there’s an odd quirky way in which baseball correlates to national elections. When the American League wins the World Series, that‘s generally good news for the Republicans. National League wins; good for the Democrats.

Detroit‘s last two World Series triumphs came in 1968 and 1984, years when the GOP won presidential elections. The Tigers lost the World Series seven years ago, and less than a month later Democrats recaptured Congress. When the Tigers were humiliated in last year‘s series, we knew it meant curtains for Mitt Romney.

There was a lot of criticism of President Obama for devoting so much time to his health care plan during his first year and a half in office. Some felt he should have also tried to get through a massive job creation plan, or a program to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure. However, he did succeed at getting what we now call “Obamacare” passed, and it is now transforming medical coverage.

For as long as I can remember, the Republican Party has stood for local control. They don’t like Washington telling the states what to do. When Democrats have been in control in Lansing, they didn’t like the state meddling in local matters. Today, this continues to be true in one sense.

It’s clear that the Republicans running our legislature don’t like the federal government setting health care policy for the states. That’s why they’ve refused for two years to establish a state registry to help match Michiganders who will now need to buy health insurance with various private care providers.

Basically, those running our legislature want to pretend that the Affordable Care Act is going away soon. Never mind that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it was fully constitutional. Never mind that the last presidential election was fought largely on that issue, and President Obama was decisively reelected.

They so hate higher levels of government telling lower levels what to do, that they refused to create a health care registry, even though this means that Washington will create one for us anyway, and we will lose millions as a result.

Well, you might figure that if the Republicans believe this that strongly, they’d be against meddling with employment policies set by local units of government.  But you’d be wrong. At least, that is, when it comes to benefits for workers.

The Commonwealth Fund

Michigan will be part of the federal government’s health insurance exchange, instead of being a partner in a joint effort.

That’s because the state Senate began its spring break yesterday without meeting a deadline to vote on accepting federal funds for the project.

Republicans in the state Senate defied the wishes of Governor Snyder and a lot of business groups by refusing federal funding for a joint federal-state health insurance exchange.

That’s where customers will go to comparison shop for coverage. Instead, Michigan customers will shop on the federal government’s exchange.

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Universities might take cut after skirting around new right to work law

"Some Michigan universities could lose 15-percent of their state funding over new union contracts. A state budget panel Tuesday voted to sanction schools that approve long-term contracts before the state’s new right-to-work law takes effect. That’s unless the contracts include cost savings of at least 10 percent," Jake Neher reports.

Health care exchange deadline Friday

The state has until Friday to come up with a plan on how to shop for health insurance online as part of the Affordable Care Act. As the Detroit Free Press reports,

"If the [health exchange bill] doesn't pass this week, it will end up solely in the federal government's hands. Gov. Rick Snyder has urged the Legislature to pass the health exchange bill as a way for the state to have input on how the exchange will run and which insurance companies appear on the exchange."

Govenor Snyder hopes Lansing will not need an EM

Governor Rick Snyder says he wants to prevent the city of Lansing from getting an emergency manager. Lansing faces a projected $9 million budget shortfall next year. According to MLive, the governor talked about the future financial situation of the city at the Lansing Regional Camber of Commerce's legislative dinner last night,

“If the city of Lansing wants to be proactive and talk about a consent agreement, I want to be a good partner.”

A consent agreement is the intermediate step between emergency management of a troubled municipality’s finances and complete local control.


The Affordable Care Act requires that for those Americans who can afford it, they must carry some form of health insurance starting on January 1st, 2014 or pay a fee.

Online 'health care exchanges' will be set up to help people buy health insurance who can't access it through an employer. If the states don't set up an exchange, the federal government will.

Gov. Snyder wanted legislators to set up a state-run exchange last year, but Republican legislators refused to vote on it, hoping the federal health care law would be overturned.

That didn't happen and the timeline for a state run exchange has passed.

Now some state Republicans are reluctantly voting in favor of a setting up a federal-state run exchange.

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Governor Snyder chooses a Republican judge to replace Supreme Court Justice Hathaway

"Governor Rick Snyder has picked a Republican judge from Macomb County to fill a vacancy on the Michigan Supreme Court. Judge David Viviano replaces Justice Diane Hathaway, who resigned in disgrace as she faced bank fraud charges," Rick Pluta reports.

Michigan moves forward with health care exchange

"A bill to set up a state website where people can shop for health insurance has passed its first hurdle in the state Legislature. A House panel Wednesday voted to accept more than $30 million from Washington to set up the health care exchange. It would be a partnership between the state and the federal government under the Affordable Care Act," Jake Neher reports.

Schmidt and Bolger case extended

A one person grand jury is extending an investigation until August into a political party switch scheme involving then Rep. Roy Schmidt and House Speaker Jase Bolger. As the Associated Press reports,

"Representative Roy Schmidt's switch to the GOP last May came under scrutiny when he offered money to a political novice to run as a Democrat against him. Democrats say Bolger possibly conspired to obstruct justice, though a Kent County prosecutor said no crimes were committed."

MichigaMichigan Gov. Rick Snyder at a Univ. of Michigan basketball game.n Gov. Snyder gets cagey on subject of weight loss.

Governor Rick Snyder is "staying positive" about the failed effort to set up a state-run health insurance exchange.

Under the national health care law, states can set up web sites where people can shop for insurance plans.

States that don’t will have to use whatever the federal government sets up.

Snyder wanted Michigan to set up its own exchange, but the effort died in the Republican-led state house. So I asked him…

"Are you bummed at all about the health care exchange at all?"

"I don’t get bummed about much, I’m a positive guy."

Snyder says he knew the state-run exchange might not have gotten set up in time to meet federal deadlines.

That doesn’t mean that we can’t come back and say here’s a whole series of reasons that really have value and bring it up again.

In the meantime, Snyder wants to cooperate with the federal government.

Suppose that Mike Ilitch, the owner of the Detroit Tigers, said he refused to accept the result of the World Series. He wasn’t going to accept the San Francisco Giants as champions, despite the fact that they swept his team in four straight games.

That would be nuts. But not much more irrational than what Republicans in the state House of Representatives did yesterday. They stomped their feet, whined, pouted and refused to set up a state-run exchange to help citizens and businesses shop for health care, now that they have to buy it.

This won’t make much difference to the average person, and affects only those who don’t have health care now, as well as small businesses, which now have to offer it to their workers.

The only difference is the federal government, not the state, will be running the system that helps people find health care. While this is being called an exchange, it is actually more like a marketplace, where people can shop for health care policies.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Each week we take a look at Michigan politics with Ken Sikkema, former senate majority leader and senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service.

The House GOP Health Policy Committee, today voted by a 9-5 vote  against legislation to establish a state-run health care exchange. The health care exchanges are a requirement of the federal Affordable Care Act.

Governor Rick Snyder has been pushing for a state-run online market where people can compare and buy health insurance plans, but Republicans in the House continue their opposition to Obama's federal health care act. Today, Speaker of the House Jase Bolger asked fellow Republicans to pass the legislation.

"Here you have a situation where the Speaker finally said lets do this, and his own members said, 'No, we don't want to do it.' So, I think that's somewhat of an embarrassing moment here for the Speaker, not so much for the Governor," said Sikkema.

Demas says there are no signs of an extension for states to set up the exchange. At this point it's likely the state will get a federally created exchange.

Stateside: Addressing Michigan's lame-duck session

Nov 19, 2012
Michigan's State Capitol in Lansing.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan lawmakers are currently in a "lame-duck" session.

With some politicians nearing the ends of their terms, a mixed sense of delay and progress pervades Lansing.

David Eggert, political contributor for MLive and Michigan Radio’s Jack Lessenberry talked about the typical work ethic of a lame-duck period.

“Some of these folks won’t be coming back, so I think they feel somewhat liberated and also under pressure to get things done,” said Lessenberry.

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Michigan's longest serving first lady, Helen Milliken, dies at 89

Helen Milliken was Michigan’s first lady for 14 years, from 1969 to 1983.

The Detroit Free Press writes of a Republican who fought for causes that sometimes were at odds with the party:

Helen Milliken is perhaps best remembered as Michigan’s leading proponent of the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The ERA, which would have banned discrimination based on sex and authorized Congress to adopt laws enforcing it, came close to passage (it was approved by Congress and 35 of the needed 38 states, including Michigan).

But she was also a leading advocate for the arts and environment, becoming a political force in her own right.

Missing today's due date, Michigan gets a health care exchange extension

Michigan Republicans don't care for it.

And they've been hoping that provisions of the Affordable Care Act would get struck down. That hasn't happened, and one deadline for action is today.

But as MLive's David Eggert reports, they've been given an extension to decide on whether to set up a state run health care exchange:

The Obama administration late Thursday gave Michigan another month to decide if it wants to build its own online marketplace where individuals and businesses can shop for health insurance.

The deadline had been set for today. But in a bow to a request from the Republican Governors Association, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius extended the deadline until Dec. 14.

Detroit Mayor reaches deal to keep city afloat

The dire financial projections for Detroit continue, with some predicting the city could run out of cash in December.

But Michigan Radio's Sarah Hulett reports, Mayor Bing has reached a deal with the state worth $137 million:

Mayor Bing says the agreement will help the city make changes it needs, and avoid running out of cash as early as next month.

"We're asking for $10 million in the month of November. We meet the milestones we've agreed upon, we're asking for $20 million in December, and then we've got another $50 million that will be held in escrow at a later date," Bing said.

Michigan House Republicans

Michigan is not likely to meet a Friday deadline to tell the Obama administration whether the state will operate its own insurance exchange under the federal healthcare law.

The exchange is where businesses and individuals will shop online for coverage.

A key Republican decision-maker says she won’t be pushed by federal deadlines without first getting more questions answered.

State officials have chosen Priority Health HMO as the benchmark for a new health care exchange.

It's another step towards the inevitable - unless the next President and Congress make major modifications to the Affordable Care Act, or nullify it completely.

Uninsured people will be required to buy health insurance through state health care exchanges by January 1, 2014.

The state's decision means all other health insurance companies must offer at least the same level of benefits as Priority Health HMO.

Michigan House Democrats

Since most of the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, Michigan has been facing the ongoing of issue of implementing a Michigan health care exchange.

While Republican Gov. Rick Snyder has long called for the state to move ahead with the exchanges, many Republicans in the legislature are pushing back.

There is also a call from Republican members of the legislature and Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, to wait until after the election in November to move forward.

Gov. Rick Snyder
Rick Snyder for Michigan /

Gov. Rick Snyder says he’ll continue to push the Legislature to create a place online to comparison shop for health insurance. The health care exchanges are an element of what’s required under the federal healthcare law that was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Republican leaders in the state House say they’re in no hurry and plan to hold hearings before making their next move. The governor says time is growing short to comply with the law, and the state risks losing its share of federal funds to enact its exchange.

The Obama administration has given new leeway to states to choose their level of involvement in running health care exchanges. States are required to create the exchanges under the Affordable Care Act.

The exchanges will allow individuals and small businesses to shop for health care plans.

Ari Adler is the press secretary for Michigan House Speaker Jase Bolger.

He says Bolger doesn't plan to move forward on the exchanges until the Supreme Court rules on the Affordable Care Act.

"If we are put in a position where we have to have some sort of health exchange, " says Adler, " [Bolger] is willing to work with the governor and others to put something in place at the state level -- so we do not have the federal government coming in and controlling our health care in Michigan."

Governor Snyder says he wants the Legislature to send him a bill that would create an exchange. He's said waiting too long could leave Michigan vulnerable to missing the federal deadline for creating the exchanges.

He's directed some staff to do preliminary work on setting up an exchange. That work includes creating a database of possible health care plans, and reviewing software programs that other states are developing.

Earlier this year, Michigan Radio's Jennifer White sat down with Helen Levy, a Research Associate Professor at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research who worked with President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors in 2011.

White talked with Levy about how health insurance exchanges work and  what health care options they may provide to individuals.

Take a listen to their conversation below or read a transcript here.


Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan is making little progress toward creating a statewide health exchange required by federal law, held up by House Republicans who want to wait until the U.S. Supreme
Court decides if the law is constitutional.

The high court will hear arguments over the Affordable Care Act starting Monday.

Justices could uphold the law, strike it down completely or get rid of some provisions. House Republicans say the state shouldn't spend $9.8 million in federal funds on planning the exchange until
the court rules this summer.

But state and federal officials say Michigan could run out of time to put a state-run health exchange in place by Jan. 1.

They warn the federal government then would install its own exchange where consumers could compare private health insurance plans online.

Matthileo / Flickr

Tea Party activists and health care advocates packed a public hearing yesterday at the state Capitol. State lawmakers will decide over whether Michigan should create a website that would allow people to comparison shop for health insurance. Most people who showed up used the event to voice their opinion on the federal Affordable Care Act.

The online health care exchange is required under the new health care law, which is why many Republicans at the state Capitol have been hesitant to approve the website. They say it would be an endorsement of the Affordable Care Act.

Doctor Fadwa Gillanders is a chronic disease management specialist. She opposes national health care. She told lawmakers about a patient with several chronic conditions who called her – in her words – begging for help.   

“I get beggars every day. We’re turning into a nation of beggars, ‘Can you give me? Can you give me?’ Because we don’t know how to take care of ourselves, and we’re hoping insurance will make it better, but it actually makes it worse.”

Those who support national health care say health care is too expensive and too few people receive adequate care. The Republican chair of the House panel says she has no timeline to approve or reject the creation of the health exchange website.