This is happening as Senate Bills 61 and 62 make their way through the Michigan Legislature. Proposed by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder and sponsored by a Republican and a Democrat in the Senate, this legislation has gained widespread support over the past six months.
The bills would enable Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan to transition our corporate structure to become a nonprofit mutual insurer – and regulate BCBSM alongside our competitors under consistent guidelines.
The House and Senate conducted eight public hearings on this proposal last fall. This followed three public hearings in 2011 held by the Senate Insurance Committee. That committee just completed its first public hearing of 2013, and reported the legislation unanimously to the full Senate.
Supporting the bills is a broad and diverse group of organizations – with BCBSM in the lead. Others supporting include our industry competitors – the Michigan Association of Health Plans; and Aetna, the giant national for-profit health insurer. The business community is strongly on board – the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, local chambers of commerce, the Small Business Association of Michigan and the Michigan Business and Professionals Association. The health community is supportive as well, including Ascension Health, University of Michigan Health System, Michigan Osteopathic Association and Trinity Health, among others.
Newspapers have supported the proposal on their editorial pages, including The Detroit Free Press, the Detroit News and the Port Huron Times Herald signaling that the time is right to move Michigan’s health insurance regulations into a modern era.
BCBSM is not getting everything our way in this legislation, to be sure. But we believe it represents a tremendous opportunity at a critical time – giving our industry a regulatory system that functions well, enabling us to compete for customers on a level playing field, and leaving a lasting legacy through BCBSM nonprofit contributions to the state totaling $1.56 billion over the next 18 years. Better competition, affordable health insurance and protections through our nonprofit contributions for our state’s most vulnerable people are at stake.
We are pleased to have such broad support for this change. It’s vital for Michigan’s future.