FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, January 29, 2007
Contact: HHS Press Office
Governor Granholm and HHS Secretary Leavitt Discuss Ways to Improve Access to Affordable Health Coverage
Governor Jennifer M. Granholm and HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt today discussed plans to increase access to affordable health care in Michigan. The discussion was held during a late afternoon meeting in Lansing.
In 2005, Michigan approached HHS with the broad outlines of a federal Medicaid waiver request that would allow the channeling of state and federal dollars in a way that would provide the uninsured with access to affordable health care coverage. Governor Granholm's administration staff and HHS officials have met to discuss important policy and budgetary considerations of the plan, which state officials expect to submit to HHS soon.
"We want to be partners with the federal government to give our citizens access to affordable health insurance, Governor Granholm said. "Our Michigan First Healthcare Plan is intended to provide a quality product at an affordable cost, create incentives for business, and help bring down health care costs for everyone and we are pleased that Secretary Leavitt and his staff are working with us to make our plan a reality."
At today's meeting, Secretary Leavitt also discussed the federal government's new Affordable Choices Initiative. Unveiled by President Bush in the recent State of the Union address, this plan will support the innovative measures states are taking to help those who cannot afford insurance or who have persistently high medical expenses. Governors across the nation, such as Governor Granholm, have put forward plans to make basic private health insurance more accessible for their citizens.
The President's Affordable Choices Initiative provides states with incentives to make basic, affordable private health insurance policies available to their citizens. The Secretary of HHS would be able to redirect Federal payments away from institutions and to need individuals in eligible states. These grants would allow states to help low-income individuals purchase private health insurance. State participation would be voluntary, and states would design their own programs, subject to approval by the Secretary of HHS.
"Our goal is to get a plan for affordable, basic insurance, accessible to every citizen in every state," Secretary Leavitt said. "Governor Granholm and I had a very productive conversation about expanding access to affordable health insurance to the citizens of Michigan. I commend the Governor for looking to market-based solutions and look forward to continuing to work with her on the details of the state's proposal."
Earlier this year, Governor Granholm proposed the Michigan First Health Care Plan. This plan will extend affordable health care to Michigan citizens by:
- creating an affordable private market health care product for individuals and businesses;
- subsidizing care for those who can least afford it;
- creating incentives for businesses to offer coverage to their employees; and,
- reducing the overall cost of health care delivery by expanding technology and promoting healthy lifestyles.
Under the plan, uninsured individuals will have access to private sector insurance plans offered by a newly created "Exchange," which will administer the plan. Premium assistance will be provided on a sliding scale based on income up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level (approximately $40,000 for a family of four). Health insurance products offered by the Exchange will rely on private sector approaches, including managed care with defined networks, benefits that are more comparable to employer sponsored insurance, and small group market plans, cost sharing, and the pre-tax treatment of contributions to reduce cost. The Michigan First Health Care Plan will also provide a platform to extend access to affordable insurance products to small businesses with uninsured employees.
In addition to meeting with Governor Granholm, Secretary Leavitt was in Michigan to meet with more than 20 Detroit-area business leaders.
Leading employers such as GM, Ford and Chrysler signed support for a national initiative aimed at improving health care quality, information and cost-effectiveness for employees and their families. The companies pledged to provide quality and price information about doctors, hospitals and other medical providers for all enrollees in their health care insurance programs. This information will help employees choose health care providers based on the quality of care they deliver and the prices they charge.
In addition, the employers will support health information technology by encouraging the use of recognized interoperability standards in the health IT products used by their health plans. They also pledged to develop incentives for achieving better value in health care, including incentives for high quality care and for more active involvement by employees in choosing their health care services.
Note: All HHS press releases, fact sheets and other press materials are available at http://www.hhs.gov/news.
Last revised: January 20, 2009