Posts Tagged 'health insurance'

Kasich and Taylor Give Away State Control for Partisan Political Games

Lt. Governor Mary Taylor has once again put politics over the interests of Ohio’s businesses and consumers by not submitting a list of minimum essential benefits to be covered under Ohio health insurance policies.  Citing a lack of clarity in rules from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), she ignored an important deadline in implementing federal health care reform.

“The Lt. Governor consistently derides ‘Obamacare’ and federal mandates and yet, when given the opportunity for control over how the insurance industry will be regulated in Ohio, she opts for a one-size-fits-all federal model,” said Representative John Patrick Carney (D-Columbus). “Secretary Sebelius and HHS recognized that all states are not the same and allowed states the opportunity to regulate themselves. Ohio has a unique economy and unique demographics.  What works in California or Texas or Indiana may not be best for Ohioans.”

Insurance is one of Ohio’s largest industries.  According to the Ohio Department of Development, Ohio’s health insurance sector employs nearly 50,000 people—ranked 6th highest in the nation.

Representative Carney has been a champion of state control in implementing health reform in Ohio.  Last January, he introduced HB 412 with Rep. Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) to establish an individual and small business health benefit exchange.  In their legislation, a board of industry experts would be responsible for establishing minimum essential benefits in Ohio.

“The refusal of this administration to implement any part of the Affordable Care Act demonstrates a disheartening willingness to put political gamesmanship before the best interests of the people of Ohio,” Rep. Carney said.  “The opposition to certain provisions of the ACA appears to stem not from concerns over their merit, but rather from a staunch refusal to admit that an idea—first implemented by a Republican Governor, then adopted by a Democratic President—could actually benefit the people.”

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Reps. Garland & Antonio Fight to Protect Women from Gender Discrimination

State Reps. Nancy Garland (D- Columbus), Chair of the Ohio House Democratic Women’s Caucus, and Nickie J. Antonio (D- Lakewood) held a press conference in coordination with Innovation Ohio to discuss gender discrimination by health insurance companies, and introduce HB 551 to prohibit so called “gender rating.”

Currently, health insurance companies determine premiums based on a variety of factors, one of which is the gender of the policy holder. Women are consistently charged significantly higher rates than men, even when factoring out maternity coverage.  The legislation introduced today would eliminate gender discrimination in healthcare premiums. Ohio’s women would no longer have to unfairly pay more for equal coverage.

“Women deserve to be treated equally to men, and this legislation will make that possibility closer to a reality,” Rep. Garland stated. “Ohio’s women cannot be forced to pay higher insurance premiums any longer. Not only does this put a financial strain on individuals, but on small businesses that are owned by or employ women. This injustice must end.”

Innovation Ohio released a report today that shows the disparity between men and women for insurance premiums in Ohio. According to their report, a typical 40-year old Ohio woman buying an individual policy pays anywhere from 20 to 50 percent more than a 40-year old male and 60 percent of insurance plans sold in Ohio charge non-smoking women higher premiums than male smokers.  The difference in insurance premiums varies so greatly, there is not a clear justification of the premium differences.

“The status of being a woman should not be a pre-existing condition,” said Rep. Antonio. “Ending ‘gender rating’ by health insurance providers is another step towards equality. By continuing practices like this we are implicitly tolerating discrimination and hurting families in which women are often the health care decision makers in households around the state.”

Reps. Antonio & Carney Create Ohio Health Benefit Exchange Agency

Rep. Hagan, Sen. Skindell, Rep. Ramos, Rep. Antonio, Rep. Celeste, and Rep. Carney speak at a press conference to support the Ohio Health Benefit Exchange Agency

State Representatives Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood) and John Patrick Carney  (D-Columbus) introduced legislation today to create the Ohio Health Benefit Exchange Agency. This will establish the Ohio Health Benefit Exchange Program and include an exchange for individual coverage and a Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP Exchange).  The exchange program will provide affordable coverage options for individuals and small business employers to provide health coverage for their employees throughout Ohio.

Rep. Antonio said, “We must be pro-active in designing the health exchanges and not leave the health care option decisions for the people of Ohio up to the Federal Government.  This legislation to create the Ohio exchange is intended to increase consumer choice of health plans.”

This legislation will make quality health benefit plans available to individuals and employers who qualify beginning Jan. 1, 2014.  This exchange must be established and implemented in order to comply with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed by Congress and to make Ohio eligible to receive an exchange establishment grant.

“We need clarity and certainty on these issues,” Rep. Carney said. “Those who are operating small businesses in Ohio are very anxious because of the Department of Insurance’s lack of a clear direction on whether Ohio will be establishing its own exchange.  After months of inaction and the forfeiture of millions of dollars in federal grant opportunities, we have decided to take matters into our own hands as a legislature.”

Senator Michael J. Skindell (D-Lakewood) has introduced companion legislation in the Senate, SB 277.


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