Whitmer signs bills to protect affordable healthcare for millions of Michiganders

Whitmer signs bills to protect affordable healthcare for millions of Michiganders

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer walks to her seat before the start of a meeting at White House on Feb. 10. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

By Kyle Kaminski

October 19, 2023

A package of bills signed into law by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will cement aspects of the Affordable Care Act into state law and help ensure all Michiganders keep access to healthcare.

LANSING—Legislation signed into law this week by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer aims to protect health care access for all Michiganders and make it harder for the federal government or the US Supreme Court to claw back health care access like was done with the overturn of Roe v. Wade.

Whitmer signed eight bills signed this week officially embedding several provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) into state law, ensuring that Michiganders are at least temporarily protected from any attempts by Republicans in Congress to repeal them—or to have the courts strike them down.

“The ACA includes critical provisions that protect people with pre-existing conditions from being charged more, allows kids to stay on their parent’s insurance until they turn 26, and guarantees essential services in all health insurance plans,” Whitmer said in a statement on Thursday.

In addition to allowing dependents to remain on a parent’s insurance plan until age 26, the bills mirror federal law in preventing insurers from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions or discriminating against patients based on their gender identity or sexual orientation.

“The Affordable Care Act was enacted to protect access to health insurance, especially for people with chronic diseases,” state Rep. Kimberly Edwards (D-Eastpointe) said in a statement. “It’s important for Michiganders to have continued access to medical care regardless of their current medical needs. … Medical care should be accessible to all as a basic human right.”

The other newly signed state laws—all of which mirror the Affordable Care Act—prohibit insurers from instituting annual or lifetime limits on coverage and require them to provide coverage for specified services like hospitalization, pregnancy, and emergency services

 “Prior to the implementation of the federal ACA, insurance providers had every right to implement annual and lifetime caps on health care coverage,” state Rep. Reggie Miller (D-Van Buren Township) said in a statement. “These providers had the freedom to decide that coverage for things like cancer were too expensive, and people could be hit with an annual cap on their coverage. This is yet another wrong that Michigan Democrats have corrected.”

Senate Bills 356358, which Whitmer also signed into law this week, require insurers to provide a summary of health insurance coverage to consumers, prohibit insurers from rescinding coverage, and help ensure that they are actually providing the benefits outlined in their plans.

“Because of the ACA, countless Michiganders with pre-existing conditions were able to afford insurance and access preventive care,” state Sen. Kevin Hertel (D-St. Clair Shores) said in a statement. “While some of the federal legislation’s most popular provisions face challenges in court, we are ensuring those protections remain safe here in Michigan for years to come.”

Whitmer listed the bills among her top legislative priorities during a speech in August, where she also called on lawmakers to pass bills to create a new system for paid family and medical leave, lower prescription drug costs, and to repeal laws that limit access to reproductive health care.

The legislation signed this week was passed without the support of dozens of Republican lawmakers—including every member of the so-called “House Freedom Caucus”—who  earned a sharp rebuke this week from Michigan Democratic Party Chairwoman Lavora Barnes.

Once again, extremist Michigan Republicans voted against common-sense, cost-saving legislation that protects Michiganders,” she said in a statement. “While we know these extremists will continue to side with Big Pharma, Michigan Democrats will keep fighting for Michiganders’ pocketbooks—because every Michigander deserves quality, affordable care.”

READ MORE: Dems to Stop Big Pharma From Gouging Michiganders for Drugs

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  • Kyle Kaminski

    Kyle Kaminski is an award-winning investigative journalist with more than a decade of experience covering news across Michigan. Prior to joining The ‘Gander, Kyle worked as the managing editor at City Pulse in Lansing and as a reporter for the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

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