LANSING (AP) – A Michigan House panel is hearing testimony on a proposal that would end Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s tax-exempt status and transform the health insurer from a charitable trust to a customer-owned nonprofit.

The House Insurance Committee on Tuesday was listening to backers and critics of the proposed overhaul of the state’s largest insurer that’s passed the state Senate.

Consumer advocates say it deregulates Blue Cross Blue Shield and removes customer protections. Supporters say adequate regulations are preserved and the legislation levels the playing field for all state insurers.

Committee Chairman Pete Lund says another hearing is scheduled next week and he wants the measure to get a full House vote by year’s end.

The plan requires approval by the Legislature and Blue Cross’ board of directors.

© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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