Michigan Senate panel approves Blue Cross bills

LANSING, Mich. -- The state Senate is poised to consider a proposed overhaul of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan after legislation was approved by a committee.

The Senate Insurance Committee passed two related bills Tuesday and sent them to the full chamber for a vote Wednesday. They received bipartisan support.

AARP opposes the bills in their present form, saying they should address issues of health care affordability and access.

The legislation would end Blue Cross' tax-exempt status and change the health insurer from a charitable trust to a customer-owned nonprofit. It also would contribute about $1.5 billion over 18 years to a foundation continuing Blue Cross' efforts to improve public health and care access.

The legislation addresses some concerns from Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and others about protecting senior health coverage.