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affordable care act

The deadline for the Affordable Care Act's open enrollment period is January 31.
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Few things have been more politicized than the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

There’s a lot of misinformation and disinformation about the insurance program. We’re going to try to put politics aside and find out just what’s happening now and what will happen as it continues to be phased in.

Helen Levy is a professor at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, the Institute for Social Research, and the Ford School of Public Policy. Thomas Buchmueller is a health economist and professor at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.

They joined us today to talk about the insurance program.

“The goal is to reach as many as we can of the approximately 50 million people who have no health insurance. And so the way we’re trying to do that is by expanding access to individual health insurance coverage for people who could by their own coverage but don’t have an employer policy,” said Levy. “And we are also trying to target the uninsured and give them coverage by expanding the Medicaid program in some states.”

It is currently unknown as to whether or not Michigan will be one of those states.

Still not sure what the Affordable Care Act means or what it does or doesn’t do? You’re not alone. Politics aside, we took a closer look at Obamacare and what it all means for you.

And, the unseasonable cool weather in Michigan is probably good for you, but not so good for the crops. Meteorologist Mark Torregrossa joined us today to talk about what is causing it.

And, a Detroit native joined us today to tell us how he sees the city's bankruptcy as a new opportunity.

Also, the fourth annual Upper Peninsula book tour is about to begin. We spoke with a couple Michigan authors who will be participating.

First on the show, by now you’ve heard a bit about Detroit’s Chapter 9 bankruptcy filing. About half of Detroit’s nearly $20 billion in debt is due to shortfalls in the funds for retiree benefits. According to emergency manager Kevyn Orr’s estimates, the pension funds are behind by about $3.5 billion. Unfunded health care obligations are pegged at about $5.7 billion.

Detroit is not unique in its unfunded pension and retiree health care obligations. Other municipalities in the state are also behind.

Anthony Minghine is the chief operating officer of Michigan municipal league.  He joined us today.

Michigan is a net giver when it comes to dollars leaving the state in federal taxes. According to the Economist, from 1990 to 2009, $1.23 trillion went out of the state in federal taxes, while $1.03 trillion in federal spending came into the state during that time frame.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan business owners say they still need answers to how the Affordable Care Act will affect their businesses.

About 200 people attended a seminar on "Obamacare" today in East Lansing.

The federal health care law takes effect January 1st.  Businesses with more than 50 employees will have to provide health care insurance to their employees or pay a penalty.

Ed Harden is the VP of Sales for McLaren Health Plan. He says business owners have just one question for him, “How much is this going to cost?”

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Governor Rick Snyder’s administration is working to wrap up a deal with the Legislature this week to extend Medicaid coverage to thousands more low-income families in Michigan. Republicans remain divided on the proposal.

It took a bipartisan vote of Republicans and Democrats to get the expansion through the state House last week and it will take a similar coalition to get the bill approved this week by the state Senate.

Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

For a lot of uninsured families in Michigan, this is a big week.

Lawmakers in Lansing are sloooowly moving ahead with expanding the state’s Medicaid program.

That would give another 470,000 Michiganders coverage.

So who exactly are we talking about here?

The morning I meet Jen and Todd Nagle, we have no clue the day will end with Todd being rushed to the doctor for chest pains.

The Michigan House of Representatives in Lansing
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio file photo

State lawmakers are moving forward with a plan to expand Medicaid in Michigan after months of debate. A state House panel approved the measure yesterday, and the full House is expected to vote on it today.

Republicans on the committee were split on the legislation. Many said they were not willing to support legislation that would further entrench the federal Affordable Care Act in Michigan. 

The federal government says it’ll foot the entire bill for Medicaid expansion through 2016, and at least 90 percent after that.

Half a century ago, there was a movement very much like today's Tea Party. They believed our nation was being destroyed by a conspiracy to make this a socialist country.

They didn't like taxes and hated Medicare as much as today's Tea Party hates what they call "Obamacare."

That movement captured the Republican Party in 1964, and nominated their hero, Senator Barry Goldwater, for president.

He accepted the nomination in a speech which would make today's Tea Party activists swoon. "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice," he proclaimed, as his supporters jeered and hooted at the mainstream Republicans they despised.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan's largest nurses union is in Lansing today lobbying for Medicaid expansion.

The issue has been locked in a political debate at the state capitol for months.

John Karebian is the executive director of the Michigan Nurses Association.    He says Medicaid expansion is being “held hostage” by Republicans still angry over the passage of the Affordable Care Act.

Up to half a million Michigan residents could lose their health insurance if the legislature fails to expand Medicaid.

Low-income Michiganders covered by local health plans could lose their coverage in 2014 under the Affordable Care Act. The law was written with the assumption states would accept federal funds to expand Medicaid.

Medical diagnostic equipment
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

  More than a dozen insurance companies want to be part of a health care exchange that provides coverage to Michiganders under the new federal health care law.

Blue Cross Blue Shield, Humana, McLaren, United Healthcare and ten other insurance companies have applied to be part of the new health care exchange.

Beginning in October, Michiganders will be able to use a federally run exchange to compare the health care plans.  It’s all part of the Affordable Care Act, also known as "Obamacare," which takes effect in 2014.

It’s coming.

In just six months, the Affordable Care Act will be going into full-effect. While many changes are already in place, 2014’s the big year for the law — it’s the year when all citizens are required to get insured.

But what if you already have insurance? How will you know what subsidies you’re eligible for? And where do we find these subsidies?

Photo courtesy of the Snyder administration.

The Michigan Legislature is getting closer to approving a state spending plan.

On Wednesday, the state Senate passed a education funding bill. And after lawmakers come back from the Mackinac Policy Conference, a broader budget is slated to pass next week.

But so far, debate on proposed appropriations have been mostly divided on party lines.

One issue on the partisan divide: Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.

The federal healthcare law called for broadening health insurance coverage to low-income adults — including some 400,000 in Michigan.

Out of 30 Republican governors, only six supported the expansion. Gov. Rick Snyder was one of them.

"Expansion will create more access to primary care providers, reduce the burden on hospitals and small businesses, and save precious tax dollars,” Snyder said in a press release in February. "This makes sense for the physical and fiscal health of Michigan."

But federal funding for the expansion of Medicaid has been left out of the Republican-supported budget, running counter to Snyder’s recommendation.

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37,000 low-income Michiganders and small-business customers may be eligible for health coverage through a new health insurance cooperative, the Lansing State Journal reports.

With $72 million in federal funding, Consumers Mutual Insurance of Michigan is an alternative health care option for families and businesses looking for coverage after provisions of the Affordable Care Act go into effect January 2014.

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.

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House committee works on road repair plan

A state House committee is working on a $1.6 billion plan to pay for repair and maintenance on Michigan's roads.

"The plan would result in higher fuel taxes and driver fees. But it would also eliminate the six percent Michigan sales tax on fuel purchases," Rick Pluta reports.

Flint dumps contract with DWSD

"The city of Flint is dumping its contract with the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. Flint emergency manager Ed Kurtz signed a contract yesterday to get the city’s water from a new pipeline that’s being built from Lake Huron to Genesee County...A spokesman says the Detroit water department will have to look at its options  to try and recoup investments made to Flint’s water system," reports Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody.

Michigan addicts become eligible for insurance

Nearly 88,000 drug and alcohol addicts in Michigan will become eligible for insurance starting in 2014.

"Michigan health officials say the state's substance abuse care system will be able to handle the surge of people who will become eligible for alcohol and drug addiction treatment under the federal Affordable Health Care Act," the Associated Press reports.

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.

Medicaid expansion in trouble in Mich. Legislature

Mar 23, 2013
michigan.gov

Governor Rick Snyder and health advocates have their work cut out for them persuading the GOP-led Legislature to expand Medicaid coverage to hundreds of thousands more residents.

A state House subcommittee has stripped a provision from a budget bill to expand Michigan’s Medicaid program.

The money to add more than 400 thousand people to Medicaid would come from the federal government under the new national healthcare law.

Some Republicans say they don’t trust Washington to keep that promise or that they want to see some changes to Medicaid before they’ll support it.

Roger Martin is the spokesman for a coalition of businesses and healthcare providers that supports the expansion. He says concerns that the federal government will eventually cut off the money is unfounded.

“I can’t name one instance where the federal government has made a promise in law, that was affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court, the Congress and the president had, and then pulled the plug on. I can’t name one. So basically I think it’s a Trojan horse argument.”

Governor Rick Snyder says he expects the Legislature will ultimately accept federal money to expand Michigan’s Medicaid program

“This is just a part of the legislative process. There are usually some challenges. But, again, the track record’s good about overcoming barriers. Do you get everything you want? Not necessarily, but you work hard and achieve the goals that really count – relentless positive action.”

Governor Rick Snyder called for the Medicaid expansion in his new budget proposal. He considers the subcommittee action a temporary setback.

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Part of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) calls for an expansion of the Medicaid program, but some state legislators and governors are resisting the expansion.

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder is NOT one of those governors resisting.

When he announced his support for the expansion last month, he said it was about being "financially responsible."

Republicans in the Michigan Legislature, however, seem to disagree.

FLICKR USER THE COSUMERIST / Flickr

Like it or not- for it or against it - Obamacare is coming, and coming soon.

The Affordable Care Act requires that most Americans carry some form of health insurance beginning next January or pay a fee. And by October 1, less than seven months from now, states need to have health care exchanges in place where consumers can buy the required insurance.

Last week, the State House agreed to let the state spend a federal grant worth nearly $31 million to help set up that health care exchange.

What would it mean for Michigan to partner with Uncle Sam in running this exchange?

For that answer, we spoke with Helen Levy. Levy is a research associate professor at the Institute for Social Research, the Gerald Ford School of Public Policy, and the School of Public Health at the University of Michigan.

FreedomWorks

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.

State capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

A bill to set up a healthcare exchange in Michigan has passed its first hurdle in the state Legislature. A House panel today voted to accept more than $30 million from Washington to set up the exchange.

It would be a partnership between the state and the federal government under the Affordable Care Act.

House Appropriations Chair Joe Haveman says the alternative would be a federal exchange with no state control.

“Although it may appear like it was a step in the wrong direction or endorsing Obamacare, this was the conservative vote. The other vote was the liberal vote to say ‘we want the federal government to take us over.’”

Governor Rick Snyder wanted an exchange run entirely by the state. But lawmakers did not act in time, and that’s now off the table.

The bill now goes to the floor of the state House.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder decides this week whether he will call for expanding Medicaid in his new budget.

The federal government would pick up the entire cost at first, which would allow the state to add nearly 400 thousand people to the Medicaid rolls who are currently uninsured.

One of the goals of the federal health care law is to reduce the number of un-insured people and costly emergency room visits.

But, after the first few years, states will have to pick up part of the cost: 10% by 2020.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - A federal judge has ruled a property management company owned by the founder of Domino's Pizza doesn't have to immediately implement mandatory contraception coverage in the health care law.

U.S. District Judge Lawrence Zatkoff ruled Sunday in favor of Tom Monaghan and his Domino's Farms Corp. near Ann Arbor. Monaghan, a devout Roman Catholic, says contraception isn't health care but a "gravely immoral" practice.

Changes could make Blue Cross Blue Shield a nonprofit mutual

Dec 13, 2012
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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Many Republicans in the Michigan Legislature want to allow health care providers, or insurers to deny service to patients based on religious, moral or ethical objections.

The "Religious Liberty and Conscience Protection Act" passed the state Senate last Thursday during the tumultuous 'right-to-work' debate.

Now a House Committee has approved the bill, which will allow it to go before the full House. The Michigan House could vote on the measure today, which would send it to Gov. Snyder's desk.

More from the Detroit Free Press:

On a straight party-line vote, the state House insurance committee voted Wednesday to approve a bill that would allow health care providers and facilities to refuse service based on a moral objection, religious reasons or matters of conscience.
The bill now moves to the full House, where it could be considered as early as this afternoon and, if approved, would move to Gov. Rick Snyder for his signature.

User: mconnors / MorgueFile.com

A federal grant will put more primary care providers in medically-underserved areas of southeast Michigan.

The $21 million grant will help train medical residents in five federally-qualified health centers.

The program is a partnership between Michigan State University’s medical school and the Detroit-Wayne County Health Authority.

Chris Allen is CEO of the Health Authority. He says it will add much-needed primary care doctors to the medical safety net.

“And it ultimately will provide medical homes for the people who live in these areas, and thus not a reliance on the emergency room for their care," he said.

Allen says residents who participate in the program will be eligible for medical school loan forgiveness.

The plan is to train 85 residents over three years, starting next summer. Allen says after learning the practice in southeast Michigan residencies, the new doctors will stay in the area.

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

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