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Friday, August 5, 2011

Michigan and the "Mandated Offer"

Business Review West Michigan reports that Hope Network CEO Phil Weaver plans a major push for a mandate in Michigan. Michigan Chamber of Commerce CEO Rich Studley has a counter-proposal.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan in 2009 began offering employers with mental health coverage the option to buy coverage for intensive early intervention for children with autism.

“We recognize that all families care about their children. We believe that we have been more progressive than other Michigan insurance companies in addressing autism,” Blue Cross Blue Shield spokeswoman Helen Stojic said. “To the best of our knowledge, we are the only insurer in Michigan to offer this coverage option.”

As a compromise to the issue, the Michigan Chamber supports a “mandated offer” that would require health insurers to offer autism coverage to employers to buy for employees who want it.

“We would be open to that,” said Studley, calling a mandated offer a “more market-oriented solution.”

Weaver responds that the push for mandated coverage stems from insurers not offering it.

"The two options are mandate or choice. Today, insurance companies have the choice to provide coverage for children with autism and the majority are not providing any coverage," he said. "We need to ensure that children with autism have a greater opportunity for independence, and if the insurance companies are not going to choose to cover it, like they cover diabetes or cancer, then we need to support a mandate."