health insurance

Stateside
5:04 pm
Tue July 30, 2013

What is happening with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act?

Michigan Health Insurance Program is offering more options to people with pre-existing conditions.
user striatic Flickr

An interview with Helen Levy and Thomas Buchmueller about the Affordable Care Act.

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.

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Health
12:02 pm
Thu July 11, 2013

Who's happiest with their insurance? Medicaid recipients

Marianne Udow-Phillips.
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.

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Politics & Government
11:54 am
Tue June 11, 2013

Michigan nurses lobby for Medicaid expansion

Members of the Michigan Nurses Association are in Lansing today lobbying for Medicaid expansion
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.

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Health
5:40 pm
Thu June 6, 2013

Insurance companies apply to provide Affordable Care Act coverage to Michiganders

Medical diagnostic equipment
Credit 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.

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Health
1:22 pm
Thu June 6, 2013

Confused by the Affordable Care Act? 3 things every Michigander should know about healthcare

A flow cart explaining how the exchanges will work.

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?

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Health
1:22 pm
Thu May 30, 2013

What's happening with Medicaid in Michigan

Gov. Rick Snyder.
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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Health
12:33 pm
Mon May 13, 2013

Low-income Michiganders target of new health insurance cooperative

Consumers Mutual hopes to cover people across the state.
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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Politics & Government
7:01 am
Fri May 3, 2013

In this morning's news: Auto insurance, wolf hunting, insurance for live-in partners

User: Brother O'Mara flickr

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.

Politics & Government
2:48 pm
Mon April 22, 2013

Michigan lawmakers are considering changes to workers' compensation rule for firefighters

(file photo)
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.

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Politics & Government
12:22 pm
Thu November 29, 2012

State-run health insurance exchange likely defeated

Looks like an electoral map... State decisions for creating health insurance exchanges in 2014, as of November 28, 2012
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."

Politics & Government
5:00 pm
Sat November 24, 2012

Lawmaker: Michigan residents should get $5B from Blue Cross/Blue Shield

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.

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Politics & Government
5:46 pm
Wed October 17, 2012

Michigan Senate approves overhaul of Blue Cross

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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mornings news roundup
7:38 am
Mon September 24, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines. . .

User: Brother O'Mara flickr

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.

Politics & Government
8:50 am
Fri September 21, 2012

For-profit insurance companies look forward to a more open marketplace in Michigan

Blue Cross Blue Shield building on Lafayette in Detroit.
Wikipedia

There was another day of hearings yesterday on Governor Rick Snyder’s proposed overhaul of Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Michigan.

Other insurance companies say any reforms should make it easier for them to compete with the Blues.

Other insurers have long complained about their inability to win a bigger piece of Michigan’s insurance marketplace. Blue Cross covers four million Michiganders.

Rick Murdock is with the Michigan Association of Health Plans. It’s an organization of 15 for-profit insurers that compete with Blue Cross.

"There’s no disputing the fact that Blue Cross-Blue Shield has 70 percent of Michigan’s commercial insurance market – a monopoly by any definition," said Murdock.

A Blue Cross representative said the proposal will create more competition, and Blue Cross will, for the first time, pay taxes. But he also said the Blues’ marketplace advantage comes from being a not-for-profit company not focused on maximizing profits, and that would not change under this overhaul.

It's Just Politics
2:30 pm
Fri September 14, 2012

A mixed reaction from Republicans over Snyder's Blue Cross Blue Shield overhaul

Governor Snyder announced his proposal for an overhaul of Blue Cross Blue Shield this week in Michigan
Photo courtesy of the Snyder Administration

This week on It's Just Politics it’s all about the Blues. Blue Cross Blue Shield, that is. BCBS is, by far, the state’s largest health insurance company. It’s also a state government creation; created by state law. It has its own law, separate from all other insurance companies because it is Michigan’s “insurer of last resort,” meaning that Blue Cross has to take everyone who applies. Its mission: to make sure everyone who wants or needs health insurance in Michigan can get it.

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Health Insurance
5:30 pm
Tue September 11, 2012

Proposal would change Blue Cross in Michigan

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder announces proposed changes to how the state's largest health insurance provider is regulated at a press conference, Tues. Sept. 11. 2012.
Governor Snyder's office State of Michigan

Update 5:30 p.m.

Governor Rick Snyder has proposed an overhaul of the rules covering Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Michigan. Blue Cross would have to pay taxes adding up to $100 million a year or more.

But the company could also make changes to its rates a lot more quickly and easily. That would help it compete for business.
    
Andy Hetzel is a vice president at Blue Cross. He says the new federal health care law is changing the insurance marketplace and Michigan needs to keep up.

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Health
7:12 am
Wed August 1, 2012

Online exhanges for health coverage not ready yet

User: cncphotos Flickr

There's been no action by the state House yet on creating online exchanges for people to comparison shop for health coverage.

That’s after another day of hearings by two state House committees on the question.

Governor Rick Snyder is pushing the Legislature to act quickly so Michigan qualifies for federal planning grants, and does not risk being forced into a federal system.

Representative Al Pscholka chairs the House budget subcommittee that would fund the exchange.

He says the numbers are big, and he wants to step carefully.

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Health
8:17 pm
Fri June 29, 2012

Deciding Michigan Medicaid's future

istockphoto.com

Michigan has to decide whether to expand its Medicaid rolls by up to a half-million people starting in 2014.  The U.S. Supreme Court's landmark decision on the Affordable Care Act struck down a portion of the law that would have required states to expand the program or risk losing all federal aid.

Michigan hospitals support Medicaid expansion.  They spend billions of dollars each year providing charity care for adults without health insurance.

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Politics
2:48 am
Wed June 13, 2012

Grand Rapids City not willing to narrow abortion coverage for city employees

People line up to speak at city commission's 'night out' at Rosewood Elementary School's gym. Grand Rapids resident Adrienne Urban (at the podium) spoke in favor of the proposal.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Despite some public pressure, Grand Rapids City Commissioners declined to support a proposal that would restrict abortion coverage for city workers. A group turned in more than a thousand signatures in favor of the proposal last month.

Health insurance for Grand Rapids city workers does not cover any elective surgeries. So abortions are only covered when deemed “medically necessary”. The proposal would’ve defined that to mean only in cases of rape, incest and to protect the health of the mother.

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Newsmaker Interview
4:58 pm
Tue April 10, 2012

Lt. Governor Calley, advocate for autism coverage

Michigan Lt. Gov. Brian Calley (R)
User: Michigan Works! Association / Flickr

The Michigan Legislature passed a series of autism coverage bills that have been sent to Governor Snyder for his approval.

Lt. Governor Brian Calley was been a central advocate of the bills. He also has a 5-year-old daughter with autism.

The bills would change Michigan insurance code, which would require that certain evidence-based therapies be covered, up to certain limits.

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