2011-11-03 / Letters to the Editor

State must act quickly to create health marketplace

The Affordable Care Act created health insurance marketplaces – or exchanges – through which individuals and small businesses can purchase health insurance coverage beginning Jan. 1, 2014. It’s estimated that between 517,000 and 730,000 people will gain coverage through Michigan’s health insurance exchange.

Senate Bill 693, introduced by Sen. Jim Marleau in September, would create the MiHealth Marketplace- Michigan’s health insurance exchange. This competitive marketplace gives individuals and families more control, quality choices, and better protections when buying insurance. The MiHealth Marketplace establishes an easy to use web site - as well as a toll free call center- that allows people to make real comparisons between plans so that they can find the one that best meets their needs and budget.

This common sense legislation would create a marketplace designed to foster competition among health insurance carriers, benefitting individual consumers and small businesses that traditionally have lacked the purchasing power of big businesses when it comes to health insurance. The MiHealth Marketplace would help contain costs and maintain quality coverage while expanding access to healthcare in communities across the state.

Gov. Snyder rightly called for quick action, urging the state Legislature to approve this important marketplace by Thanksgiving to protect Michigan’s healthcare system from unnecessary federal intervention. And, no matter how you picture the development of the Mi- Health Marketplace, everyone can agree that maintaining control of this important new marketplace within Michigan is essential.

If Michigan fails to create this resource, the federal government will create one for us. All 50 states are now federally mandated to establish a healthcare marketplace. So here’s our choice: Michigan stakeholders can work together to create the best marketplace for Michigan, or we can let the federal government create one for us.

Michigan also stands to lose millions of dollars in federal grant dollars if the state continues to delay in establishing this new marketplace. These funds are vital in allowing the state to properly design the MiHealth Marketplace and integrate the technologies necessary to make the exchange run properly for consumers. A MiHealth Marketplace in Michigan also means JOBS in Michigan instead of somewhere else.

A tremendous amount of work is yet to be done to get ready to enroll hundreds of thousands of uninsured Michiganders who could be looking to access coverage through the MiHealth Marketplace. This important and time-sensitive legislation is pending in the Senate Health Policy Committee and I urge our legislators to do the right thing for Michigan and pass the bill without delay.

Darrell E. Milner

Executive Director, MidMichigan Health Services

Houghton Lake

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