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Mayes Unveils Plan to Guarantee Health Care Access, Rein in Costs

Reforms Would Protect People By Prohibiting Insurers From Jacking Up Rates

May 13, 2009       Leave a Comment
By: MyBayCity Staff

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State Representative Jeff Mayes (D-Bay City) today unveiled a major health care reform package that would guarantee health care access to all Michigan citizens, prohibit insurance companies from rejecting or jacking up rates on the sick, and expand coverage for Michigan children. The plan would also rein in the skyrocketing cost of health care by creating a catastrophic health care fund to protect the sickest individuals.

"More than a million Michigan residents face each day without health insurance, with countless more not getting the coverage they need," Mayes said. "We need to act, and we need to act now. Ensuring that every Michigan resident is able to get the health care they need is far too important a goal to wait any longer."

The plan will guarantee access to health care by taking aim at a key element of Michigan's health care crisis. As more and more workers lose their jobs and employer-based health care coverage, many find themselves being rejected by insurance companies because they have an existing medical condition, adding to the state's more than 1.1 million uninsured residents. Michigan leads the nation in unemployment ? 12.6 percent in March according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The plan will:

· Guarantee access to health care by requiring insurance companies to cover people who have pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes or cancer.

· Prohibit insurers from raising rates on individuals who become sick.

· Ban unfair market practices like cherry picking the healthiest individuals to cover, which drive up insurance rates and prevent some of the most vulnerable residents from obtaining care.

· Expand the state's MIChild program to help cover every child in Michigan.

· Create the Michigan Catastrophic Protection Plan (MICAPP) Fund to rein in the soaring cost of health care and protect the sickest individuals.

The health care reform package also takes aim at reining in the skyrocketing cost of health insurance by creating the MICAPP fund for individuals. The statewide fund would pay for the coverage of people with the most expensive medical conditions in an effort to rein in skyrocketing health care costs for everyone.

According to a 2008 study by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, employment-based health insurance premiums have increased 120 percent since 1999. In 2007 alone, premiums for employer-based coverage rose by nearly 7 percent, with some of the largest increases inflicted upon small businesses with fewer than 24 workers.

In the coming weeks, Mayes and his colleagues will be introducing other cost effective measures to further control the skyrocketing cost of health care, including the bulk purchasing of prescription drugs, electronic prescribing, tackling fraud and waste, and wellness and prevention programs.

"When our friends and loved ones are denied the care they need because they get sick, that's a sign that Michigan's health care system is irrevocably broken," Mayes said. "Insurance companies need to be in the business of helping their customers that get sick, not look for every possible way to save a couple bucks by denying their claim. Our plan will crack down on these unscrupulous practices and make health care more accessible for Michigan residents."

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