Health Care under Attack in Ohio
by Ohio State Rep. Michael Stinziano
Ohioans who signed up for health insurance through the federally run health insurance exchange will have their premium assistance protected by legislation that I’ve introduced in the General Assembly along with Rep Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) to establish the Ohio Health Care Exchange.
As the Ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, I introduced this legislation in anticipation of an upcoming United States Supreme Court decision in King v. Burwell which will determine the legality of paying federal premium assistance to policyholders in states like Ohio which do not run a state health insurance exchange.
One way or another, the Supreme Court decision in Burwell is expected to be decided by one vote. It’s time for Ohio lawmakers to prepare for a decision by the United States Supreme Court that could threaten the health care of more than 234,000 Ohioans. We cannot ignore the potentially devastating financial consequences for so many Ohioans if the Supreme Court rules that they are no longer eligible to receive federal assistance to help pay their health insurance premiums.
If you do the math using information provided by the US Department of Health and Human Services, estimates are that low and moderate income Ohioans would lose federal subsidies in the amount of $50 million each month or $600 million per year if the Court rules that they cannot receive federal assistance to help pay for their health care.
While I hope the Supreme Court rules that providing assistance to Ohioans is legal, potentially Burwell puts the lives of Ohioans at risk. It’s time to consider again whether Ohioans wouldn’t be better served by a state run exchange.
According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, currently 234,507 Ohioans receive their health insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act with nearly 85% of them qualifying for federal assistance averaging $247 each month.
Sadly, neither the Obama Administration nor state officials are prepared for an adverse Supreme Court decision.
No one should underestimate the difficulty of establishing a state run exchange, but, if the Supreme Court rules against the legality of paying federal assistance to policyholders enrolled through the federal exchange, the General Assembly may have no choice but to act.
My legislation establishing an Ohio Health Care Exchange will make certain that, no matter what the Supreme Court decides in Burwell, Ohioans who are receiving assistance under the Affordable Care Act will continue to receive that help.
Federal premium assistance is available to uninsured individuals with incomes up to 400% of the federal poverty level, which is $47,080 for a family of one and $97,000 for a family of four in 2015. Individuals eligible for these subsidies paid, on average, just $105 a month for coverage purchased through federal health insurance exchanges. Without these subsidies the average monthly premium would have been $374, according to a recently released U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report.
I co-sponsored similar legislation sponsored by Rep. Antonio and former Rep. John Patrick Carney (D-Columbus) in the 129th General Assembly, but we were unable to convince our colleagues in the General Assembly about the importance of setting up a state exchange.
As an elected representative, I pay close attention to problems that may affect you and welcome you to schedule time to meet me at the Statehouse to discuss questions or concerns.
Or, if you prefer, meet me during community office hours which I hold weekly throughout our community. You can find out when I’ll be at a library, community center, or coffee house near you by visiting my web site: www.ohiohouse.gov/Michael-Stinziano
Serving you is what makes my job enjoyable and what drives me to do better each day, and I look forward to hearing from you.
Michael Stinziano represents Ohio’s 18th district. You can visit his website to learn more about his work to improve life for the residents and businesses in his district. Stinziano is currently running for a seat on Columbus City Council.