health insurance

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A proposal to prohibit basic health insurance plans from covering abortions goes before the Board of State Canvassers tomorrow.   Women would be able to buy separate abortion riders for their health insurance policies.

The Board is expected to certify that a petition drive has enough signatures to put the matter before the legislature.

Genevieve Marnon is with Right to Life of Michigan.   She says women should pay for abortion coverage themselves.

healthcare.gov / 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 healthcare.gov 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 enrollmichigan.com or any of the websites below:

consumersforhealthcare.org

communitybridgesihc.com

accesscommunity.org

aihfs.org

Listen to the full interview above.

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1,300 Michiganders signed up for Obamacare in the first month of online exchange

"Health officials released a report yesterday showing that only about 1,300 Michigan residents managed to sign up for coverage through the troubled federally-run state health care exchange in its first month of operation," the Associated Press reports.

Michigan Supreme Court names Court of Claims judges

"The Michigan Supreme Court has moved quickly to name judges to serve on a revamped Court of Claims to hear major lawsuits filed against the state. A new law moves the Court of Claims from the Ingham County Circuit and makes it part of the Michigan Court of Appeals. The state Supreme Court tapped two judges originally appointed by a Republican governor and two appointed by a Democrat to serve on the new Court of Claims," Rick Pluta reports.

Senate approves bill for pot sales at pharmacies

"The state Senate has approved a bill that could clear the way for pharmacies to sell medical marijuana in Michigan. That’s if the federal government decides to regulate cannabis as a prescription drug," Jake Neher reports.

Marianne Udow-Phillips is Director of the University of Michigan's Center for Healthcare Research.
user mudowp / Twitter

Ever since the government unveiled its healthcare.gov website, the headlines surrounding the Affordable Care Act have been about the problems with the way the site was designed and the extreme difficulty Americans have had in getting on the exchange to shop for health insurance.

But, what about the Americans that don't need healthcare.gov? The ones who already have plans? Some 14 million consumers buy their own insurance individually.

And to those consumers, President Obama has been saying this since 2009:

“If you like your current insurance, you will keep your current insurance. No government takeover, nobody’s changing what you’ve got if you’re happy with it.”

So why, then, are some 2 million Americans - about 140,000 in Michigan - getting cancelation letters from their insurers?

Marianne Udow-Phillips directs the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation, a non-profit partnership between the University of Michigan and Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Michigan. She joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Shutdown could cost Michigan $18 million a day

"Michigan’s budget chief says the federal shutdown could cost the state $18 million dollars a day in lost funding. Budget Director John Nixon says he does not expect that to happen unless the shutdown lasts more than two weeks. He says, after that, pre-funding for some big programs will run out," Rick Pluta reports.

Delays in Medicaid sign up

"The Michigan Department of Community Health is still working to start early enrollment to help people sign up for Michigan's expanded Medicaid program. Michigan's Medicaid expansion also still needs to be approved by the federal government. That means hundreds of thousands of low-wage Michiganders could have to wait weeks or months to enroll," Jake Neher reports

The state to take over Detroit's Belle Isle

"The state of Michigan has signed a deal to lease Detroit’s Belle Isle. Governor Snyder and emergency manager Kevyn Orr have both approved the 30-year plan. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources will run Belle Isle as a state park, saving Detroit an estimated $4 million a year in maintenance costs," Sarah Cwiek 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.

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”.

user striatic / Flickr

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.

Marianne Udow-Phillips is Director of the University of Michigan's Center for Healthcare Research.
user mudowp / Twitter

A new survey by the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation (CHRT) finds Medicaid recipients are the happiest with their health insurance. 

65% of people with Medicaid insurance rated it as very good or excellent - compared to  54% with Medicare insurance. 

51% of people with employer-based insurance rated it as very good or excellent. 

The lowest number was among the individually-insured group - those are people who buy their own insurance.  Only 43% said it was very good or excellent.

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.

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.

user Laura4Smith / Flickr

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.

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No-fault overhaul moves forward

"A state House panel has voted on a bill to overhaul Michigan’s auto no-fault system. Right now, people who are severely injured in an auto accident can get unlimited lifetime medical benefits. The legislation would cap those benefits at $1 million," Jake Neher reports.

House adopts wolf hunting bill

"The state House has approved a measure that would allow an Upper Peninsula wolf hunt to go ahead regardless of a referendum on the question," Rick Pluta reports.

Health insurance for live-in partners stays

"A decision to provide health insurance to same-sex domestic partners of Michigan state government employees is intact. In an order released Thursday, the state Supreme Court unanimously declined to hear an appeal filed by Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette. The state health insurance plan covers non-family members who've lived continuously with state workers for at least a year," the Associated Press reports.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

State lawmakers are grappling with an issue that pits Michigan’s firefighters against insurance companies.

A bill before the Senate Judiciary committee would expand workers compensation coverage to Michigan’s five thousand paid firefighters to include ten types of cancer, including respiratory tract, bladder, skin, and brain.

The change would ‘presume’ fighting fires caused the cancers and not require firefighters to prove exposure on the job is responsible.

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."

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.

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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Faith-based groups look to health insurance alternative

"Members of faith-based groups in Michigan could soon be allowed to share the costs of their medical bills as an alternative to buying health insurance. The state House is expected to vote this week on the measure. Several states already allow faith-based groups that share the costs of medical bills. Republican state Representative Lisa Lyons sponsored the measure. She says some families and businesses have found it’s a way to manage their healthcare costs. And that’s because there’s no guarantee anyone’s medical bills will be covered. The commitment to share the costs of medical bills is a faith-based promise, but not a legal contract. Members of health care ministries are exempt from the requirement in the new federal health care law that most people carry insurance starting in 2014. That’s led some critics to complain that faith-based medical bill-sharing could undermine the benefits of the federal health care law," Rick Pluta reports.

World's largest property auction in Wayne County

"Wayne County has finished the first round of what’s been called the 'world’s largest property auction.' The county is trying to get rid of more than 22-thousand tax-foreclosed properties by auction. More than 20,000 of them are in Detroit. But despite the glut of vacant properties, housing prices are headed up in certain areas of the city. Leaders in Detroit’s downtown and midtown areas say housing demand now outpaces supply there," Sarah Cwiek reports.

Hunters track deer virus

"State wildlife officials are looking to hunters to help track a virus that's been killing thousands of Michigan deer. Many hunters spent this weekend in the woods, a few of them deer-hunting legally, but most stalking deer ahead of next month's opening of bow season. Some 4,000 deer have died of the virus in Michigan since July. And there are outbreaks in eleven other states as well, including Ohio and Indiana. Dan O’Brien is a veterinarian with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. He says the Michigan outbreak has affected deer in 24 counties. O’Brien says the outbreak will continue until a hard freeze kills off the insects that spread the virus to the deer.  The virus is not harmful to humans," Steve Carmody reports.

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