Michigan: Add "flood the market with #ShortAssPlans" to the list of #MIGOP #LameDuck garbage

Michigan was pretty much Ground Zero for the 2018 Blue Wave midterm elections. In addition to Democrats flipping the Governor's seat (and holding onto Debbie Stabenow's U.S. Senate seat), they also flipped the Attorney General, Secretary of State, one of two state Supreme Court seats, both of the state Board of Education seats which were up and all six state University Board seats which were up. In addition, they picked up two U.S. House seats, five state Senate seats and five state House seats.

It was a complete and utter repudiation of both Republican governance and their agenda.

You might expect the Michigan GOP to accept the clear will of the voters. You would be very, very wrong.

As Democratic candidates prepare to take three statewide offices on Jan. 1 — governor, attorney general and secretary of state — Republican lawmakers introduced bills Thursday to challenge their authority.

State Rep. Robert VerHeulen, R-Walker, introduced a bill that would allow the state House of Representatives and Senate to intervene in any legal proceedings involving the state, which has traditionally been the purview of the state attorney general or the governor’s office.

In addition, state Sen. David Robertson, R-Grand Blanc, introduced a bill that would shift oversight of campaign finance law from the secretary of state to a six-person commission appointed by the governor. The panel members would be nominated by the state Republican and Democratic parties.

But wait, there's more! So much more...

Republicans move to exempt 93.5% of Michigan companies from paid sick leave law. What will be Gov. Snyder's legacy? https://t.co/W0otrNrg6W

— Chris Savage (@Eclectablog) December 5, 2018

BREAKING: Minimum wage increase is gutted on 60-48 vote. I voted NO. pic.twitter.com/3QwLQTg7pw

— Rep. Darrin Camilleri (@darrincamilleri) December 4, 2018

Michigan Republicans want to get rid of returnable bottles & cans and a half million acres of wetlands

We all suspected this was going to be a VERY rough enflamed duck session and we all were right. Two bill introduced this week seek to hurt Michigan’s environment.

The first is House Bill 6532. This bill would do away with Michigan’s law that requires non-reusable containers to have a deposit which encourages people to return them to the store to be recycled.

...But, wait! There’s more. Republican Senator Tom Casperson’s bill would allow development of 70,000 of Michigan’s wetlands, nearly a half million acres worth.

...and so forth.

In terms of healthcare policy, I thought the only consequence of picking up the Governor's office but not flipping the state House or Senate would be a stalemate: Not much good would be accomplished, but at least not much bad, either. The worst-case scenario, I figured, is that the GOP-passed & signed Medicaid Expansion Work Requirement waiver would go into effect. That sucks, since tens of thousands of Michiganders will end up being kicked off their healthcare coverage, but at least most of the 680,000 enrolled in the program will be safe.

HOWEVER, it appears that the MI GOP is trying to squeeze through even more ugly healthcare shenanigans before they lose their total lock on state government.

Presenting Senate Bill 1224, sponsored by Republican state Senator Mike Shirkey (SD16) and Republican state Representative Peter MacGregor (HD28). Shirkey, by the way, is also the same guy who sponsored the Medicaid work requirement earlier this year).

SB1224, if passed and signed into law, would remove Michigan's current restrictions on short-term, limited duration (STLD) healthcare plans...otherwise known as #ShortAssPlans, or as #JunkPlans depending on who you ask.

Currently, Michigan restricts short-term plans to no longer than 6 months per year (185 days, tecnically), and make them non-renewable (so you can't just string two back to back for a full year). They're also restricted to make up no more than 10% of a given insurance carrier's total portfolio--that is, if a carrier brings in $100 million in revenue, only $10 million of it can come from short-term plans.

Well, guess what? Here's the changes that the GOP wants to make to those restrictions:

  • It would extend the 6 month limit to 12 months (thus negating the "short-term" part)
  • it would extend the coverage period from 185 days per year to 365 days (basically the same as above)
  • it would allow the policies to be renewable (thus negating the "limited duration" part)
  • it would allow the policies to cover pre-existing conditions...but would NOT require them to do so (newsflash: most likely wouldn't)
  • it would require the policies to cover five of the ACA's Essential Health Benefits...but not the other five (including ambulatory patient services, maternity & newborn care, mental health & substance abuse disorder services, prescription drugs and rehabilitative services).

On the plus side, it would also require a 10-day cancellation period, and the massive holes in coverage would have to be prominently displayed in the application form, so I guess I'm supposed to stand up and cheer or something.

Interestingly, the bill doesn't remove or increase the 10% portfolio limit, which I guess is a good thing.

In general, this bill would do the exact opposite of what the bill the Illinois legislature just passed does (they just overrode a GOP veto of a bill which would restrict short-term plans to six months and make them nonrenewable...which is exactly the case for Michigan today).

Needless to say, I'm strongly opposed to #SB1224 here in Michigan, since it would:

  • Still allow these plans to deny coverage of pre-existing conditions
  • Still allow these plans to deny coverage of 5 of the 10 Essential Health Benefits mandated under the ACA
  • Still allow these plans to impose annual/lifetime limits on coverage.
  • NOT require the plans to include the ACA’s maximum out-of-pocket cost protection.
  • NOT require the plans to include the ACA’s 20% gross profit margin limit.

And again:

  • Flooding the market with discriminatory and/or “junk” plans which leave enrollees exposed to large holes in coverage and potential bankruptcy due to medical costs would also weaken the ACA-compliant individual market risk pool, causing premiums for ACA-compliant policies to go up further.

If you live in Michigan, you have ANOTHER reason to call your state Senator or Representative and insist they vote NO on the GOP's Lame Duck bills.