Republican state senators have blocked passage of a bill that could have restructured the Michigan individual health insurance system.
The bill, backed by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Detroit, would have changed the rules that now give Michigan Blue tax breaks in exchange for it serving as an insurer of last resort for Michigan residents with health problems.
The bill would have given Michigan Blue more flexibility to set rates or required other health insurers to share financial responsibility for insuring state residents with health problems.
Michigan Blue says the current system is wrecking its finances.
Opponents contend that the company has been doing well and reporting big increases in overall surplus levels.
Both Michigan Blue and bill opponents said Republican lawmakers kept a House-Senate conference committee from approving a compromise version of the bill that both the House and the Senate could support.
“These few Republican senators have worked tirelessly to protect the interests of out-of-state, for-profit insurance companies,” says Andrew Hetzel, a Michigan Blue vice president, in a statement. “Their effort to derail reform leaves consumers without stronger regulations to protect them, leaves Blue Cross in a rapidly deteriorating financial position and is directly responsible for forcing the decisions we must now make as a company.”