Colbeck Withdraws Support of Senate Healthcare Exchange Bill

(LANSING, MI) – Today State Sen. Patrick Colbeck (R-Canton) removed his name as a co-sponsor of SB 693, legislation that would provide for the establishment of the MiHealth Marketplace, a nonexclusive clearinghouse for health benefit plans. Senator Colbeck then voted no on the bill.

Colbeck asked on the Senate floor that his name be removed as a co-sponsor of the bill and then made the following statement before his Senate colleagues:

“I rise in strong opposition to SB693. My original co-sponsorship commitment was predicated on the understanding that this bill would provide a free market alternative to the Federal ‘Affordable Care Act.’  As a co-sponsor, I had worked hard to ensure that the bill would live up to this promise. My concerns have not been addressed in this version of the bill and I have read it thoroughly. Rather than serving as a free market alternative, I have come to the conclusion that this bill would simply further enable the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obama-care.

“I have worked hard to earn a reputation in my short tenure to date for not simply saying no to legislation that seeks to fix real problems. I have worked hard to provide alternative solutions. Such is the case with SB 693.

“Our citizens do need access to affordable care. Our state would have more jobs if we implemented a health care system that provided lower cost and higher quality care for our citizens than other states.  I regret to say that this bill does not provide an effective solution to these real needs that is consistent with the free market principles that made us a great nation.

“I would like to have had time to submit a vetted substitute that would address the concerns of myself and others who believe that the government should not be establishing a single, exclusive marketplace for private healthcare plans, but the timeline pursued for this bill did not allow for such a proposal in the Senate.

“My alternative solution would reign in the scope of the ‘Exchange’ to focus on the determination of eligibility for government assistance to citizens and the definition of data exchange standards that would enable private exchanges to provide consumers with apples-to-apples comparisons of health policies. Instead, we have before us a bill that creates a MI Health Marketplace that performs ‘All Exchange Duties’ in a bill with no definition of what an exchange is.

“It also performs the certification of private plans, plan enrollment, plan purchasing, grants for navigators that threaten traditional insurance broker roles, and call centers to direct consumers to an ombudsman. By serving as a middle man for financial transactions, I am concerned that the exchange may actually increase insurance costs because of the potentially significant payment delay to insurance providers. In short, I have no confidence that this bill will yield a free market solution. 

“The MI Health Marketplace would be a non-profit organization that is a product of our state and federal government with overarching control of health system delivery within our state.  A free market solution would focus this government organization on improving the effectiveness and efficiency of government programs such as Medicaid, Medicare and VA services and leave the comparison, enrollment, navigation and purchase of private health insurance options to private vendors…including private exchanges.”