UPDATED x2: Michigan House Appropriations Committee approves grant from feds to help set up health insurance exchange

The tea party is NOT going to like this

This morning, the Michigan House Appropriations Committee voted to accept a grant from the federal government for $30,670,000 to set up a health insurance exchange in this state as part of the Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”.)

The legislative summary explains the grant thusly (pdf):

On November 15, 2012, the state applied for a Level One Exchange Establishment Grant and included a work plan detailing milestones and timelines pertaining to activities for which the State is seeking funding. Those specific activities are the administration of plan management and consumer assistance functions under the State Partnership Model, in addition to developing and implementing the IT system interface between the state’s Medicaid and CHIP programs and the health insurance exchange. On January 17, 2013, the US Department of Health and Human Services awarded the State of Michigan a Grant in the amount of $30,667,944, which is available for expenditure for up to one year, until January 17, 2014.

Ann Arbor-area state Rep. Adam Zemke said in a statement:

I am extremely pleased that my colleagues, from both sides of the aisle, voted with me in favor of the Health Care Exchange bill, HB 4111. By accepting $30 million from the federal government for a federally mandated program, we have put Michigan in the driver’s seat for the Health Exchange – and have come one step closer to helping more than 470,000 Michigan residents to be able to receive medical coverage.

Passing the Health Exchange is an active step towards improving the quality of life here in Michigan. This is not, and should not, be a partisan issue – this is about standing up for a healthy middle class in Michigan. Health insurance is no longer a luxury; health care costs have risen to the point that it has become a necessity for all Americans. I remain committed to fighting for this bill until it is signed into law by the governor.

The tea party folks in Michigan are likely to be apoplectic over this turn of events. Early this week, I got an email from one group calling the grant a “monstrosity” that is “threatening our lives and livelihoods”.

Who knew that providing health insurance to poor Michiganders was going to bring down civilization itself?

At any rate, I add my kudos to Rep. Zemke’s. The Appropriations Committee done good here.

UPDATE: The House Democrats issued the following statement:

State Representative Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit), Democratic vice chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, voted today to approve a supplemental appropriations bill that includes $30.7 million in federal funding to create Michigan’s Heath Care Exchange. The exchange will make it easier for residents to compare health care insurance policies and purchase the policy that’s best for them and their families.

“Finally approving this federal funding to create our health care exchange means that Michiganders will be able to benefit from the Affordable Care Act, and Michigan won’t have to bear all the cost,” said Tlaib. “This is a win-win situation for our state, and I’m glad we can finally move forward on our health care exchange.”

A health care exchange is a website and a call center that will allow individuals and families to compare and contrast health insurance policies Michigan residents can buy. Residents will be able to go online or talk to a representative in a call center to get the information they need that will let them make an informed decision and buy the most affordable and appropriate coverage for themselves and their families.

“I am glad that House Republicans finally agree that using these federal funds is the right way to go to create a health care exchange that is best suited for Michigan residents,” said Tlaib. “The Affordable Care Act is the law of the land, and our Michigan Health Care Exchange will ensure that it works well for Michigan consumers.”

Tea party head explosion begins in 3 … 2 … 1 …

UPDATE 2: The full House voted to accept the federal monies on February 28th.

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