Rep. Driskell Stands Up for Seniors with Blue Cross/Blue Shield Vote

Reform bills increase cost of obtaining health care
Thursday, February 28, 2013

LANSING — State Representative Gretchen Driskell (D-Saline) voted against a proposal today to convert Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Michigan â which covers almost 4.4 million Michiganders â from a nonprofit health care corporation to a nonprofit mutual disability insurer. The proposals, Senate Bills 61 and 62, contain measures that will make it more difficult and expensive for seniors to obtain comprehensive insurance.

“Making sure seniors have access to affordable health care shouldn’t take a back seat in this legislation,” Driskell said. “These reforms are necessary, but the state missed an opportunity to hold the line on the cost of insurance.”

The proposal ends BCBS’s subsidy on Medigap insurance, which reduces seniors’ out-of-pocket health care costs, after 2016. In the bills, the Medigap subsidy is underfunded through the new Michigan Health Endowment Fund and ends in 2021.

“Increasing health care costs for seniors, many living on a fixed income, is just another blow after being hit with a new tax on their pensions,” Driskell said. “We need to make affordable care a priority so that seniors don’t have to choose between getting the care they need and putting food on the table.”

Driskell opposes putting increased financial burdens on Michigan’s seniors, who are already struggling to pay a new tax on retirement income and who have seen credits and deductions on the state income tax, such as the Homestead Property Tax Exemption Credit, reduced or eliminated.