The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that the State of Ohio has awarded Medical Mutual of Ohio to run a temporary program to provide health insurance coverage to Ohioans who cannot qualify or afford health insurance due to having a pre-existing condition. 

Assuming approval by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the program will start in August, a state insurance department spokeswoman said, and run until 2014, when broader federal health reforms kick in. Participants will have access to Medical Mutual’s network of doctors and providers, “the largest in the state,” said Medical Mutual’s Ed Byers.

To qualify, participants must have pre-existing medical conditions that make health insurance exorbitantly expensive. They also must have gone without insurance for six months or longer.

To help compensate Medical Mutual for the higher medical expenses, a $152 million subsidy will come from Washington through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the sweeping health care bill passed by congressional Democrats and signed by President Barack Obama in March.

Participants in the program will have to pay the market rate for individual policies of Ohioans without such pre-existing conditions.  Ohio’s high-risk health insurance pool is funded entirely with federal funds appropriated in the health insurance reform law passed by Congress earlier this year.

And Rob Portman would vote to repeal this program and add thousands of Ohioans, including children, back on the rolls of the uninsured.  So would Steve Stivers, Steve Chabot, and every other Republican candidate for Congress.

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