Michigan health insurance : Senate Republicans, at the behest of Senator Majority Leader Mike Bishop, last week took on public employee pay and benefits as the centerpiece of their own efforts to restructure the cost of government. They are calling on government workers to take a 5 percent pay cut and pay 20 percent of their Michigan health insurance premiums, for an estimated savings of $1.815 billion to the State. The plan would be accomplished through constitutional amendments to be placed on the August 2010 ballot, and would affect employees at all levels of government. To put the constitutional amendments on the August ballot, two-thirds majorities in both houses of the legislature would have to approve the measures by early June. Other major changes would include reducing the number of state departments from 16 to 11, and eliminating yet-to-be-determined optional services under Medicaid. Senator Bishop has created a new committee, which he will chair, to handle the legislation. House Speaker Andy Dillon (D), who previously introduced legislation to pool all public employee Michigan health insurance benefits for savings estimated at more than $900 million, continues to have hearings on his proposals and reportedly gave the Senate Republican plan some tentative praise.