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Snyder, lawmakers discussing health care exchange

Associated Press Modified: November 14, 2012 at 12:22 am •  Published: November 13, 2012

House Speaker Jase Bolger, who is taking part in talks between legislative leaders, Snyder and his aides, said he was still studying which market system would be best but was not "eager to hand the keys of the state over to the federal government."

"I want to do what is right for Michigan patients," said Bolger, a Republican from Marshall. "What we're evaluating right now is what each of those options would mean to patients and their doctors, and what they would mean to Michigan citizens' ability to control their health care."

The exchange would provide a website where individuals and small businesses could compare available health policies. More than 500,000 Michigan residents are expected to buy private insurance through the exchange, which is supposed to begin operating in 2014. Nearly 1.3 million residents — about 13 percent of Michigan's population — are uninsured.

A state-operated plan would be more tailored to Michigan's needs, said Shelly Edgerton, deputy director of the state Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.

"With a state plan you have the ability to control your own markets," she said. "It's always better to have ... Michiganders doing what's best for our own state versus having the feds come in and direct us to do it in a certain way."

The Michigan League for Public Policy, a nonprofit advocacy group, on Tuesday urged the House to join the Senate in approving a state exchange.

Haines said her committee's hearings on the matter had raised many unanswered questions about operating a state exchange, including its cost and how it would differ from a federal program.

"There are a lot of possible unintended consequences," said Haines, a Republican from Lake Angelus. "I think we've been very prudent to move at the snail's pace that some people would say we've moved at."