LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Federal law that prohibits insurers from denying healthcare based on preexisting conditions, or kicking dependents off their parent’s coverage until age 26, is now codified separately into Michigan law.
Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed legislation Thursday that attempts to duplicate the Affordable Care Act, known as “Obamacare,” into state law. The second-term governor said earlier this year that the proactive move was necessary to ensure Michigan residents “aren’t at risk of losing coverage,” due to future Supreme Court rulings.
Under the package, insurers must provide no-cost essential services, including preventive, mental health and emergency services. They can’t deny or limit coverage based on gender identity or sexual orientation, or cap coverage in a given year or across a person’s lifetime.
While “Obamacare” already includes those regulations, it has faced numerous legal challenges in its 13-year history, including several that have made it to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Earlier this year, a federal judge struck down the ACA preventive care provision. A court agreement froze the judge’s ruling as appeals are pursued, meaning most insurers must still cover things like cancer screenings, diabetes and mental health. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that 150 million people in private health plans have benefited from the no-cost preventive services.
Whitmer called on the Democratic-controlled state Legislature to pass the protections during a “ What’s Next Address,” in August. The legislation passed the Michigan House in June, with several Republicans joining Democrats, before it was approved by the state Senate along party lines.
A number of other states have codified Affordable Care Act provisions into state law. But questions linger about their effectiveness. Self-funded plans established by private employers are exempt from most state insurance laws, stunting the impact of any state measures.