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Bills adding ‘Obamacare’ provisions to Michigan law headed to governor

Michigan captial
(Bridge photo by Jonathan Oosting)
  • Bills would include key parts of the Affordable Care Act, including coverage for pre-existing conditions and allowing people under 26 to use their parents’ insurance policies, in Michigan law
  • Effort comes as Affordable Care Act faces new legal challenges 
  • Whitmer in August said codifying "commonsense, cost-saving measures of the ACA" was one of her top priorities for the fall

LANSING -- The Michigan Senate on Tuesday finalized a plan to ensure that state residents can keep consumer protections for health insurance coverage even if court challenges to the Affordable Care Act prevail.

The legislation is supported by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and would guarantee that Michigan residents cannot be denied health insurance coverage because of a pre-existing medical condition, such as cancer, asthma or diabetes.


The bills, which passed the state House in June, aim to codify parts of the federal law known as “Obamacare” for Michiganders amid a new legal challenge that could again put the fate of the law in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court. 


The bills — similar to those passed in 15 other states —  would codify at the state level prohibitions on out-of-pocket expenses for preventative care, ensure continued coverage for "essential services" like ambulance rides and birth control, ban annual or lifetime coverage caps, and let young people stay on their parents' policies until 26 years old.

The legislation garnered mostly Democratic support in the Michigan Senate, where lawmakers approved the five-bill package with little debate. 

The Michigan House gave the legislation bipartisan backing in June, and the bills are now awaiting signature from Whitmer, who in August said that codifying "commonsense, cost-saving measures of the ACA" was one of her top priorities for the fall. 

Senate Republicans who opposed the bill said Tuesday that the legislation was unnecessary and could put Michigan at odds with federal law if the Affordable Care Act is ever changed.

"I'm concerned that the inconsistencies at the state level would create conflict that will affect patient care, potentially opening the state up to action from federal regulators and provide no additional benefits for enrollees," Sen. Mark Huizenga, R-Walker, said in a Senate floor speech.

The push to enshrine federal protections in Michigan follows a March ruling in Texas, where a federal judge struck down a provision of the federal health care law that guarantees no-cost coverage on certain preventive services. 


The lawsuit was filed by a Christian-owned business that cited a religious objection to providing employee insurance that covered the cost of HIV prevention medication, arguing the medication encouraged “homosexual behavior” and sex outside of marriage. 

A U.S. Court of Appeals panel in June temporarily suspended the lower court order amid ongoing legal arguments, allowing the provision to remain in effect pending further litigation. 

Experts have predicted the case could ultimately reach the increasingly conservative U.S. Supreme Court, which has previously weakened but narrowly upheld the landmark law three times since 2012. 

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