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Lawmakers debate state health insurance exchange ahead of SCOTUS ruling

Inside the doctor's office.
Jennifer Morrow

The U.S. Supreme Court will soon hand down a ruling that may decide whether thousands of Michiganders can afford health insurance.

The court could strike down insurance subsidies offered under the federal health care law. That’s in states like Michigan where the federal government runs the health care exchange.

The ruling is expected this summer. But some state lawmakers are already debating whether to set up a state-run health exchange.

“This gives the citizens of Michigan – then, by default, the employers in the state of Michigan – a get-out-of-Obamacare-free card, as long as we stay out of a state-based exchange,” state Sen. Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton Twp.,  said on the floor of the state Senate last week.

“Make no mistake, any support for a state-based exchange in Michigan is support for Obamacare.”

Democrats say it makes sense for Michigan to run its own exchange regardless of the court’s ruling.

“We need a state exchange now,” said state Sen. Curtis Hertel, D-Lansing.

“I don’t understand why we would not want a Michigan solution, why we would want the federal government to actually be running the healthcare decisions in this state.”

Gov. Rick Snyder urged lawmakers a number of times to set up a state exchange before the health care law took full effect.

The Supreme Court could hand down a ruling in the King v. Burwell case as soon as Monday, but court watchers expect it in late June – or even early July.