Michigan Republicans vote to turn down federal money to create statewide health exchange

Republicans got very, very busy in the short time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. One of the things House Republicans did was to vote to turn down federal funds for creating a statewide health exchange to help make health care insurance available to all Michiganders.

In an action with major implications for health reform in Michigan, the state House has voted to turn down — at least for now — nearly $10 million in federal funds to create a statewide health exchange by 2014 to sell more affordable, standardized health insurance to consumers and small businesses.

The action, considered a victory for opponents of federal health reforms, means Michigan “runs the risk of falling behind other states” planning the health exchanges, said Steve Hilfinger, director of Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Insurance Regulation.

“The more we delay, the more we risk a federal answer being imposed on us,” Hilfinger said. […]

The exchanges, a critical part of President Barack Obama’s health reforms, would begin in 2014 and would offer affordable, standardized health insurance to consumers and small businesses. States can create their own exchange, as most plan to do. The federal government will run them in states that opt not to do it on their own.

The true irony in this is that by doing this they make the imposition of some sort of national/federal program on our state MORE likely. They decry the intrusion of Big Federal Government into how our state manages its affairs but then turn around and do something that all but ensures it.

The Senate passed the supplemental appropriations bill with the health care exchange funding intact but the House removed it. House Speaker Bolger says there won’t be a conference committee to reconcile the two bills meaning the Senate is likely to pass it is, without the creation of a state health care exchange.

Governor Snyder is in favor of creating it.

In other Michigan news, 66 Michigan Democrats sent Governor Snyder a letter asking him to reconsider the imposition of Emergency Managers and asking for a meeting.

Although we come to this matter from a variety of differing perspectives and ideologies, we all share in the belief that applications of the Emergency Manager Law have the potential to irreparably and irreversibly undermine both voting and collective bargaining rights in our State. Democracy is the cornerstone of our Nation and the fundamental principle upon which all of our other rights and liberties are premised. It therefore goes without saying that any effort to unilaterally appoint an unelected individual in place of an elected Mayor, Council and other officials raises considerable questions about our State’s commitment to that principle.

We also have a particular concern that the Emergency Manager law may be being disproportionately applied to disenfranchise persons of color. As a matter of fact, it is our understanding that if you choose to appoint an Emergency Manager to oversee Detroit, that would mean that approximately 50% of all of the African American citizens in the State would be living under authority of unelected managers.

I wonder where they got that last statistic? :D

Also, too, Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow sent Snyder a letter of their own asking him to consider the implications of his actions with regard to Emergency Managers.

We are writing to express our concern regarding the state’s Emergency Financial Manager law. We are deeply concerned about how this law is igniting tensions in our local communities and dividing our state.

Michigan’s strength is its diversity. Throughout our state’s history we have thrived when we work together to solve problems. This law runs counter to this cooperative spirit and is sending the wrong message to the rest of the country about what our state stands for. […]

We fully appreciate the seriousness of the fiscal problems facing the City of Detroit and other local governments, and know how challenging it is to find solutions to these problems. However, given what is at stake, we urge you to address the parts of this law that raise serious constitutional questions, and to look for ways that the state can support our cities, rather than intervening in such a troubling manner. We also hope that you oppose any effort by the State Legislature to pass new legislation that would nullify the efforts of an ongoing ballot initiative.

See the full letter at Eclectablog.

Cross-posted from Eclectablog.

I am a chemist by day and progressive liberal blogger by very early morning and very late night. I live just outside of Ann Arbor, Michigan with my lovely and talented photographer wife, Anne C. Savage. I am a vegetarian and an avid organic gardener who loves to cook. I'm heavily involved in county-level Democratic Party activities and am on the Washtenaw County Democratic Party Executive Board as co-vice chair for precinct organizing.
Chris Savage (aka Eclectablog)
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