LANSING – State Representative Tom Cochran (D-Lansing) and Theresa Abed (D-Grand Ledge) voted today against a proposal to convert Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Michigan – which covers almost 4.4 million Michiganders – from a nonprofit health care corporation to a mutual disability insurer. The proposals contain measures that will make it more difficult and expensive for seniors to obtain comprehensive insurance.

“We need to ensure that our senior citizens have access to quality, affordable health care, yet these bills changing Blue Cross/Blue Shield will make it more difficult for seniors living on fixed incomes to get the care they need,” said Cochran. “Under these bills, Medigap policies could be unavailable or unaffordable for our elderly citizens. We should be making health care more readily available and not limiting it for our most vulnerable citizens.”

The proposal ends BCBS’s obligation to offer Medigap insurance after 2016. Under a current agreement with the state’s attorney general, Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Michigan’s Medigap rates are frozen through 2016. If the insurance company does continue coverage beyond 2016, its cost could rise precipitously.

“Our senior citizens are already struggling to afford health care along with food and basic necessities which was aggravated by the new retirement tax they are forced to pay, and this Blue Cross/Blue Shield proposal just makes their financial situation worse,” Abed said. “We need to make affordable and accessible health care our priority, and put our senior citizens first instead of big corporations.”

Reps. Cochran and Abed oppose 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.