IO Says Ohio Already Benefitting From ACA

For Immediate Release: September 23, 2011
Contact: Dale Butland, 614-783-5833

IO SAYS OHIO ALREADY BENEFITTING FROM ACA
Think Tank Highlights Patient Bill of Rights Benefits Now In Effect;
Slams Lt. Governor for “Protecting Insurance Companies, Not Consumers”

Columbus—Innovation Ohio, a progressive think tank headquartered in Columbus, today heralded the one year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act’s “Patient’s Bill of Rights” and said Ohio Lt. Governor and state Insurance Commissioner Mary Taylor’s “over-the-top and wildly exaggerated criticisms of the ACA are politically motivated, and designed to protect insurance company profits at the expense of Ohio consumers.”

At the news conference, IO issued a report highlighting the Ohio impact of the many reforms and consumer protections that have come into effect since the Patient’s Bill of Rights (part of the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or “ACA”) which went into effect on September 23, 2010. Among the most important are:

  • Insurance companies are now prevented from denying coverage to the 643,000 Ohio children who suffer from preexisting conditions;
  • Parents may now keep children on their policies until the age of 26, which can benefit an estimated 40,000 Ohioans;
  • Insurance companies can no longer set lifetime limits on coverage (protecting the 6 million Ohioans with private insurance coverage) and annual limits are now tightly regulated (protecting the 6.1 million Ohioans who have employer-provided coverage);
  • Insurance companies must limit spending on overhead, CEO salaries and profits and are required to spend at least 80% of premium dollars (rather than the 60% they had previously been spending) on medical care for individual policy-holders;
  • Because insurance companies can charge small businesses more than they charge large businesses for the same coverage (18% more on average), a tax credit that is now in effect can help 147,000 Ohio small businesses afford premiums and provide coverage to their employees;
  • Under the ACA, 29 states have received grants (in 2010 and 2011 the Ohio Department of Insurance has received a total of $5 million) to help review proposed rate increases by insurance companies, and to hold companies accountable for unjustified increases;
  • Under the Patient’s Bill of Rights, Ohioans may now choose any doctor within their plan’s provider network, visit an OB-GYN without a referral, and receive emergency care at hospitals outside their policy network.

Innovation Ohio also slammed Ohio Lt. Governor and State Insurance Commissioner Mary Taylor for her recent newspaper columns and press releases attacking what she derisively calls ‘Obamacare.” In these columns and releases, Taylor has claimed that the ACA will devastate Ohio’s “competitive insurance market,” could raise premiums by up to 130% for individuals and 150% for small businesses, and implies that the ACA’s restrictions on the sale of high deductible (and low benefit) plans by insurance companies are somehow anti-consumer.

In fact, Ohio’s commercial insurance market is concentrated and not highly competitive; 41% is now controlled by a single company (Wellpoint Inc.’s Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield subsidiary). Some local markets are even more concentrated. In Dayton, for example, just two companies (Wellpoint and United Health Group) control 89% of the commercial market.

In fact, premium increases of 130% or 150% would be extremely unlikely since the ACA provides a number of cost control mechanisms, including a provision that requires insurers to justify premium increases of 10% or more with federal and state regulators, including state insurance commissioners. Is Insurance Commissioner Taylor telling us she thinks 130% increases could be justified?

In fact, the high-deductable-and-low-benefit insurance plans of which Ms. Taylor seems so fond are viable only for the young, the prosperous and the healthy; for those who need regular, on-going care, or those who have a serious illness like cancer or heart disease, or those of low income who cannot afford the high deductibles, such policies are all but worthless rip-offs.

Said IO Communications Director Dale Butland:

“Lt. Governor Taylor’s health care formula is simple: put the insurance companies back in charge and let Ohioans with no insurance, pre-existing conditions, or who get too sick fend for themselves. Her attacks on the ACA are political and intellectually dishonest. It is no accident that just this week, independent fact-checker Politifact declared one of her most recent attacks to be “mostly false.” And why is Lt. Gov. Taylor continuing to attack the ACA’s insurance exchanges when Gov. Kasich has repeatedly declared that Ohio intends to implement them? Maybe the Lt. Governor should debate the Governor and Innovation Ohio will debate the winner.”

-30-