Nov 18, 2008
Cox continues to campaign for governor on the tax-payers dime
Michigan Attorney Mike Cox is continuing his gubernatorial campaign on the tax-payers dime with press conference across the state today to voice his opposition for a pair of House Bills aimed at reforming health coverage in the state.
This comes on the heels on news reported by subscription only MIRS and Gongwer that the House has reached a compromise on the legislation dealing with Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Michigan and the individual health insurance market. Months of work, compromise and committee hearings have gone into House Bills 5851 and 5853 known collectively as the Individual Market Reform package.
The bills, which are backed by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, would change and update the rules for individual health insurance coverage as more and more employers choose to end coverage for employees to cut costs. The individual health care market was once just a very small piece of the health insurance business, but it is growing larger fast as employers eliminate care.
Proponents of the bills say that, if passed, they would prevent insurance carriers from increasing rates for people who get sick during their coverage period, establish uniform criteria for all insurers and create a fair and competitive playing field for all consumers and insurers. Opponents say the bills would eliminate competition, increase costs and reduce access to health care.
Cox, who officially announced he was running for governor on Nov. 6, has been a vocal opponent of the package. Cox has been stealthily used the AG's office to campaign for governor shortly after he was re-elected in 2006, using public service announcements with well known spots figures, holding press conferences across the state like he plans today to address issues he has no business being involved in and doing what ever he can to get his name in front of voters.
The compromise was apparently worked out with just the House Democrats and Republicans, and it has not been run past Senate Republicans, who control that body. The package has a long history in the Legislature.
It was approved early in the House with bipartisan support on Oct. 24, 2007 and sent to the Senate where the Health Policy Committee held numerous hearings and introduced substitutes to the bills. The PR machine on both sides of the issue took off, flooding legislative offices with letters and emails.
Despite all of the committee hearings on the bills in the Senate, the Senate Republicans sprang their substitutes out of committee on the Senate floor without allowing Democrats even time to read the complex substitutes. The bills passed along party lines on May 1, 2008 and were then sent to the House for concurrence. The House, however, overwhelmingly rejected the Senate version by a vote of 79-26. A conference committee was named on Sept. 3 to iron out the differences between the two versions.
The compromise was worked out among the three members of the House part of the conference committee, but the three members from the Senate apparently have not seen the compromise. The House and Senate are on a two week break, and are not set to return until Dec. 6.
Any bills not sent to the governor for signature by the end of the Lame Duck session on Dec. 26 die and must be reintroduced in the new session that begins on Jan. 3.