Michigan Republicans, Tea Party — March 19, 2013 at 12:36 pm

Michigan Gov. Snyder: “Time running out on state-run health ins. exchange”, tea party ramps up effort to kill it


Sorry, face. This nose has got to go

Governor Rick Snyder is warning Michigan Republican legislators that time is running out to set up a state-run health insurance exchange under the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”.) As Gov. Snyder points out, we have the choice of doing this in a way that is customized for Michigan or letting the federal government do it for us.

Gov. Rick Snyder warned Monday that time is running out to work with the federal government to establish an online health care marketplace and that people would likely regret lawmakers’ failure to act.

The Republican governor told The Associated Press the GOP-dominated Senate has until week’s end to approve a partnership exchange — a key component of the federal health care overhaul — before legislators go on a two-week spring break. He said there is not enough time afterward, and his administration is talking with lawmakers in an effort to get legislation passed this week.

Snyder said inaction would leave Michigan with a “pure federal exchange” and no state involvement. He said it would mean “worse customer service” for the hundreds of thousands expected to shop for and buy their insurance online starting Oct. 1, with coverage kicking in on Jan. 1.

“In retrospect, if we end up with that, at some point people will look back and most likely regret that decision,” Snyder said.

A partnership would let Michigan handle some customer service functions and approve insurers, which Snyder argues would save them from an extra layer of regulation and prevent the state from having to spend its own money.

“It means worse customer service because what happens in the partnership exchange is we get to handle the customer service piece along with some of the qualification piece. But really it’s the customer service side,” he said. “Wouldn’t you rather be working with a Michigander helping a Michigander understand what they need versus having somebody that the federal government has chosen to be your trusted guide?”

Republicans aren’t in any hurry, however, and appear to believe they know better than Governor Snyder. Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville’s spokesperson says they don’t see this week as the “make-or-break point.”

Meanwhile, tea party groups are amping up their efforts to kill it, something I am increasingly cheering them on about. The more I think about our current crop of ideologues, drunk with power and out of control, controlling the fate of the Michigan exchange, the more I think it might just be the best thing for the federal government to do it. I’m afraid of what anti-women, anti-middle class, anti-worker, and anti-poor people twists they would put on it.

To give you a taste of how the tea partiers are thinking, here’s an email I received today from the Tea Party of West Michigan. All typos are theirs:

We got word late this morning that House Bill 4111 was going to the Senate Floor today.
That is the one the Michigan House passed that would take the federal dollars that had been dangled in front of our legislators to accept the ObamaCare “partnership” exchange. It was on the agenda but never came up for a second reading this morning. Many of us were watching on Senate TV. This is good news. We’ve been hearing there are not enough votes in any committee to get it out of a committee so Leader Richardville was evidently going to try to bring it right to the floor of the Senate this morning. He must have determined there were not enough votes in the whole Senate this morning and never brought it forward. What we are doing is working.

Unfortunately we still are not out of the woods. They could bring it back up at any time and probably when they don’t think we’ll notice. I know, you hate to think they play these types of games but they do. So, don’t let up on them. In fact you might call and thank them for not supporting the bill so it could not be brought for a vote. A little positive push from you to them. It never hurts.

Also, don’t forget there is a push to expand Medicaid. This is also coming from the Feds. They will pay us 100% for the expansion for three years then cut it back to 90%. I think this is a huge trap for our state. We have no idea just how many people this would bring onto the roles of Medicaid. It’s a horrible plan for people to start with.

I also think, since medicaid is not constitutional, it should not be there in the first place so instead of expanding it we should be working on making it smaller. We cannot continue to spend money the way we are. If we have these plans they should be done with things like Medical Savings Accounts or Health Savings Accounts (HSA’s) so people learn to spend the money we give them wisely. Instead of going to the emergency room for a stomach ache, they might make and appointment and go to a family physician. If they have money left over at the end of the year, it rolls to the next year and maybe they get 10% or some other amount as an incentive to live a healthier life. This is not my idea. Many people have suggested this common sense approach but it’s never even considered by the majority of our congresspersons. If they allow people to make good choices for themselves they lose control over them.

Those last two paragraphs are stunning in their ignorance. First of all, we actually DO “know just how many people this would bring to the roles of Medicaid”: nearly a half million working poor Michiganders currently without adequate health insurance.

Second, the idea that people would get checked out by a doctor BEFORE going to an Emergency Room — an expensive act that costs ALL Michiganders in terms of higher health insurance premiums — is EXACTLY why we need to expand Medicaid and have subsidies in place for our poorest citizens. The fact that these ignorant people don’t realize this is probably the best example of why they should play absolutely no role whatsoever in setting up the exchanges as they move forward.

So, at this point, I have changed my position and am encouraging Michigan lawmakers to reject the state-run exchanges and let the federal government do it for us. It’s just one more solid step toward a single-payer health care system that will be cheaper and more efficiently run than the for-profit model we have now.

The expansion of Medicaid, on the other hand, is essential and it would be idiotic for Republicans to turn that down. Minnesota legislators just agreed to do so for their citizens this week and Michigan should do so, as well.

[Photo by Chris Savage | Eclectablog]