House, Senate Democrats Call for Action on Health Care Bill of Rights

Michigan needs to protect citizens from effect of federal repeal
Thursday, September 21, 2017

LANSING — Michigan House and Senate Democrats today called on their Republican colleagues to adopt the Michigan Health Care Bill of Rights now that session in both chambers has resumed.

The resolutions, House Resolution 139 and Senate Resolution 68, would preserve key aspects of the health care system in Michigan, which remain at risk as Congress prepares to attempt another repeal of existing health care laws before Sept. 30.

All Michigan House and Senate Democrats support the Michigan Health Care Bill of Rights, but Republicans have not publicly taken a stance on the resolutions.

“The Michigan Health Care Bill of Rights offers peace of mind at a time when there is immense uncertainty about what will happen to our health care,” said House Health Policy Committee Vice Chairwoman Rep. Winnie Brinks (D–Grand Rapids), who sponsored HR 139. “People around the state are tired of politicians playing games with their health care. They want the assurance that they’ll be able to see a doctor, get a critically important surgery and buy their prescription medicine tomorrow, next month or a year from now. This legislation does that, which is why we’re asking our Republican colleagues to stand alongside us as we protect the people of our state.”

According to a recent report by Avalere Health, the proposed bill currently in Congress would cut overall federal funding to states by $215 billion through 2026, and $4 trillion through 2036. Michigan would stand to lose $140 billion between 2020 and 2036.

“I’ve been around the state listening to people who are scared and angry about what will happen if Congress rams through this misguided attack on health care,” said state Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr. (D–East Lansing), sponsor of the Senate resolution and member of the Senate Health Policy Committee. “Instead, we should be working together to improve the quality and affordability of care, not making things worse.”

The Michigan Health Care Bill of Rights would:

  • Protect people with pre-existing conditions such as cancer, diabetes or asthma.
  • Stop the “age tax” that could allow insurance companies to charge seniors who don’t yet qualify for Medicare to pay five times as much for health care coverage.
  • Prevent insurance companies from placing coverage caps or massive rate hikes on people who need treatment, which would result in sizable out-of-pocket costs.
  • Protect essential health benefits, such maternity and newborn care, prescription drugs, substance abuse treatment and hospitalization.

“All of us need excellent health care to be productive citizens and to care for our family members,” said House Insurance Committee member Rep. Donna Lasinski (D–Scio Township). “Making sure every Michigander can get exceptional health care is not a partisan issue, and it should be something we can all support. I hope the rest of my colleagues will join with us in making sure everyone in Michigan can get the health care they need and deserve.”

House and Senate Democrats have participated in more than a dozen health care town halls around the state since June, at which they’ve heard from hundreds of concerned citizens. The next health care town hall is scheduled to take place on Sept. 26, at Mill Creek Middle School in Dexter.