Affordable Care Act, Michigan Republicans, Obamacare, Rick Snyder — November 8, 2014 at 11:15 am

An open letter to Gov. Rick Snyder: Give Michigan a state-based insurance marketplace


Prove to your constituents that you care about everyone in the state — not just big-money special interests.

Dear Governor Snyder:

I didn’t vote for you in either election, but you are Michigan’s governor. I haven’t agreed with you on much, but you did support Medicaid expansion in Michigan, although you could have done a lot more to urge the Legislature to act decisively. You also said you supported Michigan creating a state-based insurance marketplace under the Affordable Care Act (ACA, aka Obamacare), although you put up even less of a fight on that one.

Now, with your re-election behind you and the health insurance of nearly 240,000 Michiganders at risk, it’s time to lead.

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments in King v. Burwell, which could effectively destroy Obamacare by eliminating tax subsidies for consumers in states that chose to use the federal insurance marketplace instead of creating a state-based one. The case is based on a technicality and it’s absurd. (If you don’t know what the case is all about, this is a great explainer.)

Here’s why it’s absurd. Michigan and the other states chose to use the federal marketplace instead of creating state-based exchanges. That means the federal marketplace IS the state marketplace established by those states. So the answer to the question of whether the ACA intended to provide tax subsidies to all Americans, or only those in states that chose to create state-based marketplaces, seems obvious to me. The law is a federal one, with its requirements and benefits extended to every state. However, there’s no telling how the Supreme Court will rule.

You could protect Michiganders from a ruling against the ACA with one simple step: Create a state-based marketplace. It’s in keeping with your stated commitment to fostering a healthier Michigan. It would allow Michigan residents to continue receiving the tax subsidies that make health insurance affordable to them — insurance many of them will not be able to afford without assistance, given that more work needs to be done to reduce the exorbitant prices set by insurance companies.

Yes, I know Attorney General Bill Schuette is part of a similar lawsuit against the ACA, Halbig v. Burwell. He and Michigan’s Republican-led Legislature are on a crusade — like so many other Republicans nationwide — to destroy Obamacare.

But you’ve taken a more reasonable approach to the ACA. You adapted Medicaid expansion in a way that helped Michigan’s poor and working-poor gain coverage despite the ideology and rhetoric of your party. In fact, your customization of Medicaid expansion is being heralded as an example for other “red” states.

Now is the time to convince people that you can lead and govern as the moderate you say you are. Creating a state-based insurance marketplace should not be a hard sell, even to this Legislature. You don’t want to see Michiganders left without health insurance, which drives up the cost of insurance for everyone else and puts the health of the uninsured at risk. You don’t want to increase the burden on hospitals who pay when patients are forced to use the emergency room because they don’t have insurance coverage — a burden that is already being lifted by Obamacare. You don’t want to see Michigan’s residents do without the routine care that can prevent illness and diagnose problems when they can be treated more effectively and less expensively. Right?

Prove you care about all Michiganders, Governor Snyder, and do the right thing. Stand up to the extremists in your party and get the ball rolling on creating a state exchange. There’s plenty of time to get one set up for 2016. You could even create jobs by hiring one of Michigan’s many tech firms to do the work. And, as you did by customizing Medicaid expansion to cut through political red tape, you could position yourself as a leader among Republicans — the party that claims after the midterm elections that they are going to work to get things done that benefit Americans.

Lead the way for other Republican governors and prove to Michiganders that your stance as a moderate is more than just campaign rhetoric, Governor Snyder. I dare you.

[Caricature by DonkeyHotey from photos by Anne C. Savage for Eclectablog]

  • Kathi Geukes

    Dude…seriously?? He’s already proven he doesn’t give 2 chits about the working people of MI…or anyone else for that matter by signing RTW and taxing seniors pensions….he never listens to reason….ie….emergency managers….even though there’s tons of proof in other states that they don’t work…..I didn’t vote for him either…a simple google search told me all I needed to know…you know…Gateway?? I love the fact that you’re trying to use reason to reach him…but riddle me this batman…since when has he done anything reasonable that hasn’t hurt the little people of this state??? My stomach still hurts that people were STUPID enough to give this lying fool 4 more years to destroy our state… the end of this…they ALL will be kicking themselves in the ass for giving this fool 4 more years!!!!!

  • judyms9

    A well reasoned letter that will probably go unread after your disclosure that you didn’t vote for him, Amy Lynn.
    I agree with Kathi that too many of us have to learn absolutely every political lesson the hard way.

  • Jeffrey Suhre

    The Idea/thought here by EclectaBlog is nice. But more than likely this will never be read by Re-elected Governor Snyder. These open letters are all sent through his Handler’s Staff representatives. Just look at what the legislators performed with law’s in the State of MI pre-ACA time. Here in 2010 the state of MI, MI Health Insurance provider/carrier of last results, was [Blue Cross Blue Shield of MI]. The States largest Health Care Insurance carrier/provider in this state residents [People]. In the Fall of 2010 there was Antitrust lawsuit filed in Federal Court by the State of MI and US DOJ vs BCBSM. In the fall of 2012 [same time of Lame Duck, after POTUS was re-elected]. BCBSM reformed their business model. Which made this corporation, to now be the Nation’s only health insurance provider by becoming a [Non-profit Mutual Fund Health Insurance carrier/provider]. The lame-duck legislation re-wrote the legislation. Thus making BCBSM to no longer be the state of MI,Health Insurance carrier/provider of Last resort. Then in the Spring of 2013 in US Federal Court. All parties met with the Federal Judge and mutually withdrew this Anti-Trust Lawsuit claim. Related to the recent changes, in State of MI legislative laws. Which was recently signed into immediate effect in February 2013 by the Governor of MI. If one were to look at the organization that is called ALEC [American Legislative Exchange Council], They have a continuing Education Program. This CE program is for new publicly elected State/Federal people on educating them on the process of writing legislative bills. CE class programs heavily attended by recently (R) elected people. This CE program is funded by PAC’s in the range of $$$$$$$’s. #1 in these fund contributor’s is the Big Pharma PAC, # 10 on this list is Blue Cross Blue Shield Association’s of America [BCBSM parent Corporation]. Thank you to the SCOTUS in their ruling/decision on Citizen’s United which Makes Corporations = People. Don’t think so, just ask the defeated (R) candidate in the 2012 Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney.

  • Amy Lynn Smith

    I certainly understand why folks feel discouraged after the election, but we have two choices: Assume nothing good will happen for two years or continue working to make good things happen. I vote for the latter.

  • ckp2ator

    Agree, this lawsuit is absurd, just because your Legislators vetoed a state-wide exchange you get no tax credit? And it certainly wasn’t the intent of the law to create a federal tax credit inequity based on where you live. It is simply a gotcha-move by people with a magnifying glass on the legislation language, and a “would this work, let’s try it” attitude. I am heartened by this quote from your Vox article link, that if the Supreme Court does rule for the plaintiff, there is this work-around (which wouldn’t involve the detailed bureaucratic and web-site work of setting up a new state exchange from the ground-up):

    “A state could, for example, establish an exchange and appoint a state-incorporated entity to oversee and manage it. That state-incorporated entity could then contract to operate the exchange,” writes Bagley. “On the ground, nothing would change. But tax credits would be available where they weren’t before.”