health insurance exchange

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The cost of Obamacare health insurance plans will likely rise next year in Michigan. 

272,000 Michiganders signed up for health insurance using the marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act.   They will be paying more for those plans if proposed rate increases released this week are approved by state and federal regulators.

Josh Fangmeier is a health policy analyst with the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation at the University of Michigan.    

Today is the day.

If you don’t sign up for health-care coverage by midnight tonight, you might not be able to get coverage until next year. And if you choose not to get covered, you might get dinged on your 2014 taxes –also known as the "individual shared responsibility payment."

If you can afford health coverage, but you decide to do without, here's how much you might have to pay:

  • In 2014, it's 1% of your yearly income or $95 per person, whichever is higher.
  • In 2015, it’s 2% of your yearly income or $325 per person, whichever is higher.
  • In 2016 and later years, it’s 2.5% of your yearly income or $695 per person, whichever is higher. 
  • After 2016, the fee is adjusted for inflation.

To avoid any potential fees, you need to sign up by tonight.

There are exceptions.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Obama Administration says Michiganders are signing up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act at a faster pace than expected. But time is running out.

Michiganders have until the end of March to sign up for health insurance or face a federal tax penalty.

The Obama administration says through the end of January, about 112,000 Michiganders have picked insurance plans using the federal health care website.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The uninsured and others have time to sign up for private insurance under the federal health care law without facing a tax penalty.

But one Michigan insurance executive doubts much new enrollment will occur before the March 31 deadline and cautions that the net number of people buying their own insurance in Michigan could stay flat this year.

Courtesy of Children First

It's been a little over two weeks since the Affordable Care Act officially kicked in.

How many people have been able to enroll? How many are getting financial assistance to help pay for their plan? And what deadlines do we need to be aware of?

Joining us once more is Don Hazaert, director of Michigan Consumers for Healthcare, one of Michigan's four navigator agencies for the ACA.

Listen to full interview above. 

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

More Michiganders are signing up for health insurance through the federal Affordable Care Act.

Problems with the federal website made it difficult for people to sign up initially.

In Michigan, fewer than 1400 people signed up in October. But after a website overhaul, more than five thousand Michiganders completed the process in November.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Michigan will pay less than average for health insurance

"The Obama administration says Michigan residents required to shop for health insurance starting next week will pay an average $306 a month - before tax credits - for a mid-range benchmark plan. That's below the national average of $328 and ranks 29th-lowest out of 47 states for which data was available," the Associated Press reports.

Wayne State University to offer in-state tutition for undocumented students

"Wayne State University will begin offering in-state tuition to undocumented students. The decision came as part of a policy change that ties tuition to students' high school diplomas, instead of their residency status," Michigan Radio reports.

Snyder not running yet, but his campaign ads are

"The first campaign ad in the race for Michigan governor will start airing today. Governor Rick Snyder is launching his ad campaign before he’s formally announced he’s a candidate," Rick Pluta reports.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The effort to train people to help Michiganders navigate the new federal health insurance law is gearing up.

Starting October 1st, Michiganders will be able to use an online marketplace to choose a health care plan under the Affordable Care Act. How many plans there will be and what the plans will offer is still unclear.

But several groups are preparing to help with the process.

Don Hazaert is the executive director of Michigan Consumers for Healthcare. The group received a grant to help implement Obamacare in Michigan.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Four groups have been tapped by the federal government to help low income Michiganders navigate their way through the new federally mandated health insurance market.

The new health insurance marketplace is set to open on October 1st. About a million Michiganders without insurance will have to pick among a dozen or so health plans.

To help them, the federal government has picked four groups to serve as “navigators”.

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.

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.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

This “week in review” Rina Miller and Jack Lessenberry discuss a state house subcommittee’s rejection to expand Medicaid, how Michigan will be run under a federal health exchange, how universities are going under scrutiny for negotiating new, long term contracts before Michigan’s right to work law goes into effect, and how a city pension attorney in Detroit and a former trustee were indicted for bribery.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Michigan will have a federal health exchange to shop for coverage

"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 Thursday without meeting a deadline to vote on accepting federal funds for the project," Rick Pluta reports.

Health care providers could refuse to provide contraception for moral reasons

"Health care professionals and insurance companies could refuse to provide contraception, or other services if they find them morally objectionable under a bill adopted by a legislative committee. The measure makes exception for emergencies," Rick Pluta reports.

Detroit reps want feds to investigate EMs

"Two congressmen who represent Detroit are asking the federal government to investigate Michigan's emergency managers. Democratic Congressmen John Conyers and Gary Peters are asking the federal Government Accountability Office . . . to make sure any federal dollars under emergency manager control aren’t being wasted or misused. In a letter written to the accountability office, the congressmen say they’re concerned about the impact emergency managers could have on federally-funded programs and grants," Lindsey Smith reports.

You probably know the old story about the man who kept hitting himself in the head with a hammer. When asked why, he grinned happily and said, “because it feels so good when I stop.”

Well, the Michigan Legislature reminds me of that, with two big differences. We have begun to regard their nutty behavior as normal, and unlike the guy with the hammer, they show no signs of stopping.

Politically, Michigan is a moderate to liberal state. The state hasn’t voted Republican for president in 25 years. Republicans have lost every U.S. Senate election except one over the last 40 years.

We aren’t right-wing extremists. Except in the legislature, which is controlled by ideologues out of touch with the reality the rest of us live in. I’m not talking about conservatives. Good intelligent conservatives from Arthur Vandenberg to Gerald Ford have helped make this state great. I’m talking about people who substitute ideology for common sense.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Governor Snyder to make an announcement on Detroit's financial emergency

"Governor Rick Snyder is expected to announce today that he agrees with a review team’s determination that Detroit is in a financial crisis with no plan to solve it. That would set the stage for the governor to name an emergency manager to run the city later in March. There’s no official word on what the governor plans to do, but he has said the condition of Detroit’s finances is unacceptable," Rick Pluta reports.

Health care exchange and Blue Cross Blue Shield bills move forward

Michigan is moving forward on the Affordable Care Act. As the Detroit Free Press reports,

"In a 78-31 vote, 29 Republicans joined with 49 Democrats [Thursday] to accept $30.6 million in federal money to set up a Web-based health care exchange where Michigan residents can easily go and investigate, and ultimately buy, the health insurance mandated under the act. The House also overwhelmingly passed a pair of bills that transforms Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan from a tax-exempt nonprofit into a nonprofit mutual insurer."

Lawmakers consider ballot proposal to raise sales tax to fund Michigan roads

Lawmakers have come up with a new idea to fix Michigan's roads. As the Detroit News reports,

"Republican lawmakers could take the first step next week toward financing Gov. Rick Snyder's $1.2 billion road improvements by trying to place a 1-cent sales tax increase on the May ballot."

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.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Blue Cross Blue Shield overhaul reintroduced without abortion language

Lawmakers have reintroduced a proposed overhaul of Blue Cross Blue Shield, the Lansing State Journal reports.

"This time it is without the "objectionable language" on abortion that led Gov. Rick Snyder to veto the first package that cleared the Legislature last month. Two Senate bills would convert Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan into a nonprofit mutual insurance company."

Michigan might ignore federal gun control laws

"Michigan may join a small group of states that say they plan to ignore some federal gun control laws. A bill before the state legislature would exempt any guns or ammunition made, sold and kept in Michigan from any new federal regulations," Steve Carmody reports.

Michigan gets $30 million grant to help shop for health coverage

"The federal government is giving Michigan a $30 million  grant to help set up its health care insurance exchange. The exchange is mandated under the Affordable Care Act. It'll help people research and buy health coverage," Rina Miller reports.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

State-run health exchange rejected in House

Action on a state-run exchange for people to shop for health coverage was rejected in the state House Thursday. As the Lansing State Journal reports,

"Gov. Rick Snyder prefers a state-run program, but his administration this month applied for a federal grant as a first step toward the fallback position of teaming with the federal department. States have the option of creating their own exchange, teaming up with the federal government or having a federal system. . . Some Democrats opposed the legislation because it was linked to bills that would prohibit qualified health plans offered through a state exchange from providing coverage for elective abortion but would allow people to buy optional supplemental coverage for elective abortion outside the exchange."

Bills move forward to make gray wolf a game species

The Michigan Senate has approved a bill that would designate the gray wolf as a game species. The bill gives the Natural Resources Commission authority to decide whether to establish wolf hunting seasons. As the Detroit Free Press reports,

"The wolves were removed from the endangered species list in January, but only the DNR is allowed to manage the wolf population, which has begun to encroach upon U.P. towns, according to residents. The animals also are having a big impact on the U.P.'s deer population, killing between 17,000 and 29,000 deer every year, according to a report from the DNR."

State threatens to sue Troy over special election

"The state is threatening to sue the city of Troy over plans for a special election to replace recalled Mayor Janice Daniels. The Michigan Department of Elections says state law requires an election in February. Troy officials want to wait until next November. The state sent a letter to city leaders giving them until 1pm Friday to comply with the directive, and avoid litigation," Chris Zollars reports.

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.

Kaiser Family Foundation

updated 1:23 p.m.  from Gongwer News Service:

With the vote, House Speaker Jase Bolger (R-Marshall) issued a statement saying there will be no state-run exchange. Bolger spokesperson Ari Adler said it is "highly unlikely" the bill will be reconsidered.

The Affordable Care Act requires that states set up online "health insurance exchanges" by 2014 so consumers can shop for their insurance plans.

The exchanges are supposed to work like an Expedia or Travelocity for health insurance.

If states don't set one up, they'll be required to use a federal exchange.

Republicans in the Michigan legislature have resisted setting up a state-run exchange, hoping the Supreme Court or a Republican President would knock down the Affordable Care Act.

Neither of those things happened, but the resistance continues, as Chris Gautz of Crain's Detroit Business reports today:

The state House Health Policy Committee this morning voted down a bill that would have created a state-based health insurance exchange, with Republicans continuing their opposition.

Rep. Gail Haines, R-Lake Angelus and chairwoman of the committee, voted yes on SB 693 — to audible groans from those packed into the hearing room. But the measure failed on a 9-5 vote, with two abstentions.

A motion then was made to reconsider the vote, which Haines moved to pass for the day and then adjourned the meeting.

Gautz reports "It is unclear whether the House committee will take up the bill again."

Before we get down to pure-politics this week, we want to first take a moment to remember former Michigan First Lady Helen Milliken, who just passed away. She was married to Michigan’s longest-serving governor, Bill Milliken, thus, making Ms. Milliken the state’s longest serving first lady. She was not a woman content to simply stand in the shadow of her husband’s accomplishments. She was part of that generation of first ladies, embodied also by Betty Ford, who made it clear that even though they were married to their husbands, they had their own opinions, their own causes, and their own accomplishments.

First Lady Milliken was an advocate for the arts, for environmental causes, feminism and abortion rights. She was an ardent enough activist in her own right that when Michigan environmentalists wanted to recognize environmental activism they named it the Helen and William Milliken Distinguished Service Award. She exerted some influence in making those Bill Milliken’s priorities, as well, even though at times it put both of them at odds with the more-conservative elements of the Republican Party.

And, interestingly enough, this brings us to the current Republican administration. There are some tensions between Snyder-Republicans and the right wing of the Republican Party, especially the Tea Party. The Tea Party continues to send the message that it is not planning on going away, that it’s going to continue to push Republicans in the most-conservative direction possible. And we’re really seeing this play out with two particular issues right now in Michigan: health insurance exchanges and right to work.

The politics of the Exchanges

The health insurance exchanges are the online marketplaces where people and small businesses will shop for health insurance under Obamacare. Like Orbitz or Travelocity, but for health insurance. Basically, Michigan has three options: a state-run exchange, a federally run exchange, or some type of hybrid. Governor Snyder and a lot of business groups wanted a state exchange. But, all year-long, state House Republicans kept saying, “No, not yet.”

First House Republicans wanted to wait for the U.S. Supreme Court decision on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. When that didn’t go the way they wanted, they said the state should wait for the November election and see who’s elected president, with the idea that if Governor Romney was elected, then Obamacare would be repealed and the health insurance exchanges would be a moot point. But, as we know, that didn’t go the way they wanted either. And, now, they’re still dragging their feet, saying they still have more questions.

cncphotos / flickr

This week Christina Shockley and Jack Lessenberry discuss the chance of Michigan Congressman Mike Rogers taking over David Petreaus' position as director of the Central Intelligence Agency, what would happen if Michigan misses the Friday deadline to create a statewide online exchange for people to shop for health insurance and how Detroit's finances could affect the rest of the state.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan legislators are being told that it may already be too late to create an online health insurance exchange. The federal health care law requires states to submit their plans by mid-November, but exchanges require a level of complexity that might make it difficult to have a plan ready in time. 

ehealthinsurance.com

Under the Federal Affordable Care Act, states are required to create a health care exchange. An online place where people can comparison shop for health insurance. It looks much like a Travelocity or Orbitz website, but for health insurance.

Many Republicans in the Michigan legislature want to hold off on creating this exchange until the Supreme Court rules whether the act is constitutional.

A debate over establishing an online Michigan exchange where people and businesses can comparison shop for health coverage have been pushed into next year.

Governor Rick Snyder has said he’d like to see a state-run exchange established soon to ensure Michigan does not get pushed onto a federal system set up under the new national health care law.

But he’s been getting pushback from some Republicans in the Legislature.

“My members do not like Obamacare and they see this as steps to the implementation of Obamacare," said State Rep. Chuck Moss (R-Birmingham). "And, given that it’s iffy in the courts and possibly going to be repudiated in the next election, why do we want to get on that train now?”

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on the legality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Business groups have split on creating a state exchange. Governor Snyder says it’s a good idea even if the federal law is reversed.

Cedar Bend / Flickr

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to hear a challenge to the federal Affordable Care Act has Republicans in Lansing divided on whether to adopt a state mandate in the law. It requires states to create health coverage exchanges for people and business owners to comparison shop online for insurance. It’s become a point of controversy between the governor and the state’s legislative Republicans.

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.”

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.”

Bolger says he, like many Republicans, believes the federal law is unconstitutional and is likely to be struck down by the nation’s highest court. A decision is not expected before next summer.