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AARP Backs Health Insurance Exchange Bill

A consumer coalition that includes AARP Michigan supports a Senate bill that would create a state health insurance exchange called MiHealth Marketplace.

See Also: The Health Care Law and What it Means for You

The state-operated exchange, backed by Gov. Rick Snyder, is an important piece of national health care reform.

“Gov. Snyder and our state’s lawmakers should be applauded for supporting a health exchange that is simple, accountable, transparent – and does not force consumers who are happy with their plan into a health exchange,” said Andrew Farmer, AARP Michigan Associate State Director for Health & Supportive Services.

The 80-member Michigan Consumers for Healthcare favors modifying the bill to add a consumer representative on the board of the exchange and to give the board final say on which health plans can participate in the exchange.

“A MiHealth Marketplace with a consumer voice on the governing board strengthens one of the goals of having a health exchange – to ensure that residents and small businesses will have the most efficient way of choosing health plans that meet their needs.”

Added Don Hazaert, director of the advocacy coalition: “As the consumer voice for affordable, accessible, quality health care in our state, Michigan Consumers for Healthcare wants to see the proposed MiHealth Marketplace expand access, increase competition, reduce premium costs, be customer-oriented and work for small businesses and individuals alike.”

The group held a news conference in October at AARP Michigan headquarters.

Under the Senate bill, the health insurance exchange would be up and running by Jan. 1, 2014 as a nonprofit online clearinghouse for health insurers to sell low-cost and federally subsidized coverage for people who meet income guidelines.

People in households with earnings up to 400 percent of poverty – $88,200 for a family of four – would be eligible for subsidies.

The governor has pushed for the Legislature to approve the bill before the end of the year.

AARP agrees that states, which have long been responsible for regulating insurance, are in the best position to develop their own exchanges.

AARP also advocates making all deliberations and decisions about the exchange transparent, allowing the public ample opportunity for input.

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