Granholm, HHS Secretary Leavitt Discuss Michigan First Health Care Plan

Contact: Liz Boyd 517-335-6397

December 20, 2006

Partnership will make health care more affordable, accessible

LANSING - Governor Jennifer M. Granholm today met with U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Michael O. Leavitt to discuss the governor's plan to make health care affordable and accessible in Michigan.  Michigan has been working with the federal government for the past year to develop a federal Medicaid waiver that will allow the state to channel state and federal dollars in a way that will provide the uninsured with access to affordable health care coverage.

Granholm called the meeting "productive" and said she looks forward to continuing to work with the secretary to get federal approval.
 
"We want to be partners with the federal government to give our citizens access to affordable health insurance," Granholm said.  "Our Michigan First Healthcare Plan will provide a quality product at an affordable cost, create incentives for business, and help bring down health care costs for everyone."  
 
Earlier this year, Granholm proposed the Michigan First Health Care Plan. This plan will extend affordable health care to Michigan citizens by:

- creating an affordable private market health care product for individuals and businesses;

- subsidizing care for those who can least afford it;

- creating incentives for businesses to offer coverage to their employees; and,

- reducing the overall cost of health care delivery by expanding technology and promoting healthy lifestyles.

Since unveiling the plan, Granholm administration staff has been meeting with HHS officials to iron out details of the waiver request, which state officials hope to submit soon.
 
Under the plan, uninsured individuals will have access to private sector insurance plans offered by a newly created "Exchange," which will administer the plan. Premium assistance will be provided on a sliding scale based on income up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level (approximately $40,000 for a family of four). Health insurance products offered by the Exchange will rely on private sector approaches, including managed care with defined networks, benefits that are more comparable to employer sponsored insurance, and small group market plans, cost sharing, and the pre-tax treatment of contributions to reduce cost.
 
The Michigan First Health Care Plan will also provide a platform to extend access to affordable insurance products to small businesses with uninsured employees. Under the plan, small businesses without health care coverage will be able to purchase insurance products from the Exchange. These businesses will save money due to the significant reduction in the number of uninsured residents in Michigan, and because the Exchange will bear some administrative burdens.
 
This was Granholm's second meeting this year with Secretary Leavitt to discuss partnering with the federal government to help control the costs of the health care by expanding access to affordable, private health insurance coverage.

"We are pleased to learn more about Governor Granholm's ideas for expanding access to affordable health insurance to the citizens of Michigan," Leavitt said. "While financing is always a challenge, I commend the Governor for looking to market-based solutions and look forward to working with her on the details of the state's proposal."