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New laws needed to allow BCBS to join health exchange

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Officials with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan say the state legislature must pass bills to overhaul the health insurer by the end of the year. Under the measures, Blue Cross would become a customer-owned non-profit, and would have to pay state and local taxes.

The federal health care law would setup health exchanges in each state to help people shop for policies. Deadlines for states to set up those exchanges are coming up soon.

Blue Cross' Mark Cook testified Tuesday morning before the state House Insurance Committee. He says the bills need to pass soon for the state’s largest insurer to participate in the health care exchange.

"We're actually, probably, past  where we should be from an internal decision-making process on what those products have to look like, what the filings are going to have to (be)," Cook says.  "We have to file in March of next year. That’s not very far away.”

The state Senate passed the Blue Cross overhaul last month.  House leaders say they’re confident the bills will be completed by the end of the year.

Jake Neher is a reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He covers the State Legislature and other political events in Lansing.
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