Blue Cross mutual conversion bill awaits governor's signature

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is likely to get its wish and become a nonprofit mutual company under legislation that is now headed to the governor, who is expected to sign the measure.

The Michigan Senate finalized the bills (S.B 61 and S.B. 62) on Tuesday, sending them to Gov. Rick Snyder's desk. Since the legislation doesn't include the anti-abortion provision that prompted Snyder to veto it in January, legislative experts believe he will sign it this time around, the Associated Press reported.

"These reforms are a top priority and necessary to modernize and prepare Michigan for the health care market of the future," Sara Wurfel, spokeswoman for Snyder, told the Detroit News. Although he still must conduct a final review of the bills, he "does definitely intend to sign," she added.

That's welcome news for Blue Cross, which was hoping the state legislature would pass the bills by March 31 so it could prepare health plans it hopes to sell on the state's health insurance exchange.

Blue Cross, which is the largest insurer in Michigan, will begin transitioning to a nonprofit mutual company as soon as Snyder signs the legislation, and will complete the shift by January 2014, reported Michigan Live.

"Blue Cross' transition process will be driven by our board and management working together," BCBSM President and CEO Daniel J. Loepp said Tuesday in a statement. "As a mutual, Blue Cross' nonprofit social mission will be sustained, as will our commitment to remain based in and focused on Michigan's needs."

To learn more:
- here's the Blue Cross statement
- read the Associated Press article
- see the Detroit News article
- check out the Michigan Live article