Politics
5:54 pm
Fri November 18, 2011

Confusion reigns over what state should do with health care law

Business owners are trying to figure out how the federal Affordable Care Act might play out in Michigan and how it could affect their bottom line.

Under the law, states are required to create an online exchange where people could compare and buy health care insurance. States need to create the exchange by the end of 2012 or the federal government will do it for them.

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to decide if all or parts of the Affordable Care Act are constitutional next year. The problem is the State of Michigan needs to implement parts of the federal law by that time. If the state refuses, the federal government will do it for them.  

State Representative Ken Yonker (R-Caledonia) sits on the House Health Policy Committee. He wants the state to do nothing; ignore the mandates. Even if the Court doesn’t rule the health care law unconstitutional, Yonker doesn’t think the federal government even has the money to implement the exchange.

“I think that the odds are in our favor that I’m not afraid to call their bluff,” Yonker told a group of business owners at a Grand Rapids Chamber health care summit Friday. He quickly followed up with, “But I’m not speaking for my caucus.”

That’s because Republicans disagree about whether they should start setting up the exchange. Michigan Public Radio Network Capitol Bureau Chief Rick Pluta reported last week:

Republican Governor Rick Snyder says the health care exchanges are a good idea that will benefit businesses and consumers regardless of how the Supreme Court rules. The governor says he’s also afraid Michigan would be thrown into a federally designed system if the Legislature does not act quickly.

“Before the end of the year would be best in terms of being prepared,” Snyder said.

But Republican House Speaker Jase Bolger says he’s in no hurry and would rather wait for the Supreme Court to decide one way or the other.

“I don’t expect the House to act until or unless we have to act,” Jase said.

The Michigan Senate has already passed a bill that would set up the exchange.

Jamie Mills is President of Mills Benefit Group in Grand Rapids. She helps companies decide what insurance plans are best for them. 

“If we do not get something through Michigan by (the end of 2012), then the federal government can come in a put in their own exchange," Mills said. "Will they? It’s kind of like liar’s poker here – who’s going to move first.”

Mills said she’d like to see the whole act thrown out. She thinks everyone has a right to health care coverage, but she doesn’t think the Affordable Care Act will address what she sees at the main problem – rising costs.