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Opposition Continues to Grow to Blues' Legislation
Date:12/2/2008

the bills eliminate the most important consumer protections now available under current law.

"This bill ties the hands of the Michigan insurance commission and Attorney General when it comes to overseeing rate proposals by Blue Cross - a company that has 70% of the health market in the state," said Tripp.

Michigan's HMOs oppose the bills because they would add a new tax to their operations, with proceeds going to a fund that only Blue Cross is likely to be able to utilize. "We should be taking steps to address Michigan's most fundamental health insurance issues - how to expand availability of affordable insurance to more people. Instead, this bill will increase the number of uninsured in the state, and raise rates for all. It's the wrong prescription for Michigan," said Rick Murdock, executive director of the Michigan Association of Health Plans.

Joseph Aoun, an attorney who has extensively studied Blue Cross's financial documents, said there is no data to show any state policy is having an adverse impact on the company. Instead, he said there is ample evidence that the losses are mostly a result of Blues' management decisions - and the Legislature shouldn't be called upon to fix management miscues, he said.

"This decade, while companies and families in Michigan have struggled to survive, the Blues have increased their surplus from $1.3 billion to $2.9 billion. While the Blues tell lawmakers they are broke, they file documents with the insurance commission saying they made $212 million in the first nine months of 2008 - more than they made last year," Aoun said.

He noted that the company has increased rates for groups it insurance in recent years, but not in the individual market. That has encouraged businesses to drop their coverage and move employees into the individual market. Modest increases in rates in the individual market would price that product properly, while reducing in
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SOURCE Michigan Disability Rights Coalition
Copyright©2008 PR Newswire.
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