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2007 House Bill 5283: Revise BCBS individual health insurance policy regulations (Senate Roll Call 279)
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Passed 23 to 13 in the Senate on May 1, 2008, to streamline certain regulations on Blue Cross Blue Shield related to the non-profit insurer seeking approval for rate increases, require annual reports from BSBC on projects related to its “social mission,” impose on BCBS the same regulations on health insurance policies for individuals (as opposed to groups or employees) that would apply to for-profit companies under House Bill 5282, allow health insurance discounts for customers who don’t smoke or participate in certain “wellness” programs, and add two new members appointed by the House Speaker and Senate Majority Leader to the BCBS board. The bill does not contain the state “high risk pool” of the House-passed version of this legislative package.
View All of House Bill 5283: History, Amendments & Comments 

The vote was 23 in favor, 13 against, and 2 not voting.
(Senate Roll Call 279 at Senate Journal 42)

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Vote
In Favor In Favor
Against Against
Not Voting Not Voting
 Undecided
Republican
95595%
1000%
4964%
21 total votes
Democrat
178317%
762476%
5955%
17 total votes

What do you think? In Favor Against Undecided (log on required)

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Revise BCBS individual health insurance policy regulations

IN FAVOR

SENATE DEMOCRATS

Barcia (D)Gleason (D)Schauer (D)

SENATE REPUBLICANS

Allen (R)Birkholz (R)Bishop (R)Brown (R)Cassis (R)
Cropsey (R)Garcia (R)George (R)Gilbert (R)Hardiman (R)
Jansen (R)Jelinek (R)Kahn (R)Kuipers (R)McManus (R)
Pappageorge (R)Richardville (R)Sanborn (R)Stamas (R)Van Woerkom (R)


AGAINST

SENATE DEMOCRATS

Anderson (D)Basham (D)Brater (D)Cherry (D)Clark-Coleman (D)
Clarke (D)Hunter (D)Olshove (D)Prusi (D)Scott (D)
Switalski (D)Thomas (D)Whitmer (D)  

SENATE REPUBLICANS
none


SENATE LEGISLATORS WHO DID NOT VOTE

Jacobs (D)Patterson (R)



SENATE LEGISLATORS ALL VOTES

Y    Allen (R)  n  Anderson (D)Y    Barcia (D)  n  Basham (D)Y    Birkholz (R)
Y    Bishop (R)  n  Brater (D)Y    Brown (R)Y    Cassis (R)  n  Cherry (D)
  n  Clark-Coleman (D)  n  Clarke (D)Y    Cropsey (R)Y    Garcia (R)Y    George (R)
Y    Gilbert (R)Y    Gleason (D)Y    Hardiman (R)  n  Hunter (D)  -  Jacobs (D)
Y    Jansen (R)Y    Jelinek (R)Y    Kahn (R)Y    Kuipers (R)Y    McManus (R)
  n  Olshove (D)Y    Pappageorge (R)  -  Patterson (R)  n  Prusi (D)Y    Richardville (R)
Y    Sanborn (R)Y    Schauer (D)  n  Scott (D)Y    Stamas (R)  n  Switalski (D)
  n  Thomas (D)Y    Van Woerkom (R)  n  Whitmer (D)  

Senate Roll Call 279 on 2007 House Bill 5283

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Comments

"journal statement"  by Admin003 on May 10, 2008 
Senator George’s statement is as follows:

I rise to respond to a statement made Tuesday, May 5, by the minority vice chair of the Senate Health Policy Committee. In his statement, the Senator from the 1st District made four incorrect assertions regarding the Senate changes that were made to the individual health insurance market reform bills, House Bill Nos. 5282 and 5283. The Senator asserted that the changes the Senate adopted would, No. 1, allow insurance companies to retain excessive profits; No. 2, that seniors and the disabled would be excluded from the bills’ consumer protections; No. 3, that a patient with breast cancer or other pre-existing conditions would lose the right to renew coverage; and finally, that the bills created a new six-month waiting period for hospital services. Each of these assertions is incorrect and can be readily refuted.

First, regarding the assertion that the changes allow excess profits by insurance companies; in fact, the opposite is true. The substitutes passed by the Senate create a new requirement that all carriers have to demonstrate to OFIS that they have met or exceeded their loss ratio guarantee or provide a refund to policyholders. This is a brand-new provision precisely written to prevent the retention of excess profits. So the Senator was wrong on this point.

Secondly, regarding the Senator’s assertion that the seniors and the disabled are not covered by the bills’ new consumer protection mechanism, these protections already exist in current law for Medicare supplemental policies. They are found in Chapter 38 of the insurance code. The new consumer protection measures are expansions of these existing protections to the non-group, non-Medicare supplemental policies in a new Chapter 37a. They include guaranteed renewability and the six-month pre-existing condition exclusion. The protections for the Medicare supplemental policyholder in Chapter 38 remain unchanged. So, once again, the Senator is mistaken.

Thirdly, the Senator mistakenly claims that a patient with breast cancer or other pre-existing condition would lose the right to renew coverage. The opposite, in fact, is true. The bills codify the right to guaranteed renewability and prohibit medical underwriting at the time of renewal. These are important improvements in our laws.

Finally, the assertion that the bills create a new six-month waiting period for hospital coverage, where there was none before, is also simply incorrect. The current 12-month pre-existing condition exclusionary period for commercial carriers applies to hospitals as well as non-hospital services. The measure we passed shortened the period to six months. The assertion that we somehow prolonged the waiting period for hospitalized services is completely backwards.

So all four claims by the Senator from the 1st District are incorrect. I’m not sure where or how the Senator is getting his faulty information. As I have stated before, the measure that we passed contained strong and innovative consumer protections supported widely by consumer and other advocacy groups. And all of these provisions had been distributed to committee members in the weeks prior to the vote.

The bills in question came to the Senate last October. We held nine public hearings. The Senator from the 1st District had the same six months to prepare his own proposals that we had. And yet, none were forthcoming. Shortening the exclusion for a pre-existing condition from 12 months to six months is a good idea for someone with a health condition, but apparently, six months was not long enough for this Senator to generate ideas of his own.


"journal statement"  by Admin003 on May 10, 2008 
Senator George’s statement is as follows:

I rise to respond to a statement made Tuesday, May 5, by the minority vice chair of the Senate Health Policy Committee. In his statement, the Senator from the 1st District made four incorrect assertions regarding the Senate changes that were made to the individual health insurance market reform bills, House Bill Nos. 5282 and 5283. The Senator asserted that the changes the Senate adopted would, No. 1, allow insurance companies to retain excessive profits; No. 2, that seniors and the disabled would be excluded from the bills’ consumer protections; No. 3, that a patient with breast cancer or other pre-existing conditions would lose the right to renew coverage; and finally, that the bills created a new six-month waiting period for hospital services. Each of these assertions is incorrect and can be readily refuted.

First, regarding the assertion that the changes allow excess profits by insurance companies; in fact, the opposite is true. The substitutes passed by the Senate create a new requirement that all carriers have to demonstrate to OFIS that they have met or exceeded their loss ratio guarantee or provide a refund to policyholders. This is a brand-new provision precisely written to prevent the retention of excess profits. So the Senator was wrong on this point.

Secondly, regarding the Senator’s assertion that the seniors and the disabled are not covered by the bills’ new consumer protection mechanism, these protections already exist in current law for Medicare supplemental policies. They are found in Chapter 38 of the insurance code. The new consumer protection measures are expansions of these existing protections to the non-group, non-Medicare supplemental policies in a new Chapter 37a. They include guaranteed renewability and the six-month pre-existing condition exclusion. The protections for the Medicare supplemental policyholder in Chapter 38 remain unchanged. So, once again, the Senator is mistaken.

Thirdly, the Senator mistakenly claims that a patient with breast cancer or other pre-existing condition would lose the right to renew coverage. The opposite, in fact, is true. The bills codify the right to guaranteed renewability and prohibit medical underwriting at the time of renewal. These are important improvements in our laws.

Finally, the assertion that the bills create a new six-month waiting period for hospital coverage, where there was none before, is also simply incorrect. The current 12-month pre-existing condition exclusionary period for commercial carriers applies to hospitals as well as non-hospital services. The measure we passed shortened the period to six months. The assertion that we somehow prolonged the waiting period for hospitalized services is completely backwards.

So all four claims by the Senator from the 1st District are incorrect. I’m not sure where or how the Senator is getting his faulty information. As I have stated before, the measure that we passed contained strong and innovative consumer protections supported widely by consumer and other advocacy groups. And all of these provisions had been distributed to committee members in the weeks prior to the vote.

The bills in question came to the Senate last October. We held nine public hearings. The Senator from the 1st District had the same six months to prepare his own proposals that we had. And yet, none were forthcoming. Shortening the exclusion for a pre-existing condition from 12 months to six months is a good idea for someone with a health condition, but apparently, six months was not long enough for this Senator to generate ideas of his own.


"journal statement"  by Admin003 on May 3, 2008 
Senator George asked and was granted unanimous consent to make a statement and moved that the statement be printed in the Journal.

The motion prevailed.

Senator George’s statement is as follows:

I’d like to tell you a little bit about how we reached this point in the process that we went through. You will recall that the House held only a single hearing in October on this measure and reported the bill in October. The Senate Health Policy Committee has held nine public hearings on this matter beginning in January. In fact, we’ve explored this matter in great detail. We held a hearing on almost every element of these bills, including a hearing on individual market concepts, a hearing on high risk pools, insurers of last resort, the role of the Attorney General, and the role of the Insurance Commissioner. We held a special hearing on the trends in the individual market, the rating structures used, and the reserves that carriers must maintain. We had a hearing on practices in the individual market where the underwriters taught us about re-underwriting, about rescission, and about closing the books of business. We held a hearing when all three of the competitors in the individual market—the HMOs, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and the commercial carriers—presented their views on their individual market concerns. We held a special hearing which lasted for almost three hours where we heard from citizens and special interest groups. I would especially like to point out that at one of our hearings we invited—at the recommendation of the minority vice chair—an expert from Washington, D.C., who was flown in to educate us about the individual market.

So the Senate Health Policy Committee has done very extensive study and work on these matters. I would also point out that the measures before us on final passage, all the elements in the bill before us you have seen before. You have seen them either in my (S-2) or in the good Senator from the 37th District’s (S-3). They are the common elements and the good things that we could call from those two substitutes. You have all seen them, and you have all had a chance to review them and to comment on them.

Now, let me tell you a little bit about what is in these measures and why you should vote for this. The health of the people of Michigan is paramount. These measures turn what is otherwise a battle between insurance companies into something that is the benefit of the people of Michigan. They can contain extensive consumer protections. They contain consumer protections that would prevent an insurance company from rating you up when your health condition changes. We have rules regarding rescission. Rescission is the practice where an insurance company might dispute a claim based on how you filled out your initial application at some time in the distant past. We learned that this is occurring in other states and we put protections into the law so that this will not occur in Michigan. We learned about closing the books of business and how that might be used to steer unhealthy clients to one pool or to another. We have protections and rules regarding how carriers would close pools of business. We have very strong and important consumer protections, my friends.

We’ve also striven to level the playing field; the playing field between the insurance carriers. We have, as the minority vice chair mentioned, shortened the exclusion for preexisting conditions to six months for people who would purchase commercial insurance. This is an important step forward and would help the people of Michigan.

We’ve also called for a study of the individual market and a study on the question of a high risk pool. Is a high risk pool necessary for Michigan? Would it help or would it hurt? It’s uncertain at this time. The committee and this substitute have wisely called for a study of this issue.

We have a measure that addresses the mission of Blue Cross—clarifying their mission; calling for them to give us an annual report and how they are meeting their mission to the people of Michigan. We also add two members to the Blue Cross board; one appointed by the Majority Leader, another by the Speaker of the House. Why would we do that? To ensure that they are meeting the mission that this Legislature has given them.

Finally and perhaps most importantly, my friends, we have a provision to make the people of Michigan healthier. We have an incentive for those who might buy insurance in the individual market from Blue Cross Blue Shield; an incentive that says that they can get a discount if they smoke less or take better care of themselves. You should be supporting this measure. It’s a good measure that will help keep insurance affordable and accessible to the people of Michigan and help encourage them to be healthy. A vote against this measure is a vote against consumer protection. It’s a vote against people who would develop a medical condition. If you want to help them, this is your chance to do that. I would encourage all of you to support this measure.


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