Reps. Stinziano, Antonio To Introduce Legislation Establishing An Ohio Health Care Exchange

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohioans who signed up for health insurance through the federally run health insurance exchange will have their premium assistance protected by legislation state Reps. Michael Stinziano (D-Columbus) and Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) will introduce to establish the Ohio Health Care Exchange.

Stinziano, the Ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, plans to introduce legislation soon in anticipation of the United States Supreme Court decision in Burwell v. King, 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.

“Now that the deadline for signing up for health insurance through the federally run marketplace has passed, it’s time for lawmakers in Ohio to prepare for a decision by the United States Supreme Court that potentially threatens the health care that hundreds of thousands of Ohioans receive,” Stinziano said.

“One way or another, the Supreme Court decision in King v. Burwell is expected to be decided by one vote,” Stinziano said. “We should not ignore the potentially devastating financial consequences for many Ohioans if the Supreme Court rules that they are no longer eligible for federal assistance in paying their health insurance premiums.”

“According to newspaper reports, as of February 6, more than 208,000 Ohioans had signed up for health care coverage through the federal exchange, including 33,890 people living in the Columbus metropolitan area,” Stinziano said.

“The Dispatch reports that 84 percent of Ohio consumers who have qualified for assistance have received an average of $247 in tax credits per month to help pay for coverage.  While I hope the Supreme Court decides that providing assistance to people enrolled through the federal exchange is legal, potentially King v Burwell puts these subsidies at risk.  It’s time to consider again whether Ohioans wouldn’t be better served by a state run health care exchange.”

Stinziano, who also serves on the House Insurance Committee, was a co-sponsor of similar legislation (HB 412) which was sponsored by Rep. Antonio and former Rep. John Patrick Carney (D-Columbus) in the 129th General Assembly.

King v. Burwell is scheduled for oral arguments before the Supreme Court on March 4 and likely will be decided in June 2015.

“If the Supreme Court invalidates subsidies for policy holders enrolled on the federal exchange, 6.5 million Americans, many of whom were to have received subsidies after signing up during the 2015 open enrollment season, could lose the federal assistance they need to help pay their premiums. Many will be unable to afford to pay premiums and, if Congress fails to intervene, the number of uninsured Ohioans would rise sharply.”

“No one should underestimate the difficulty of establishing a state run exchange and moving so many Ohioans from the federal exchange to a state-run exchange, but, if the Supreme Court rules against the legality of paying federal subsidies to policyholders enrolled through the federal exchange, we 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 eligible to receive subsidies under the Affordable Care Act, will continue to receive assistance.”

In King v. Burwell, Plaintiffs argue that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act only permits premium subsidies in states that have set up exchanges. Regulations issued by the IRS in 2012 authorized the subsidies in both federal and state exchanges. So, far, just 13 states plus the District of Columbia have established state exchanges.

Federal premium subsidies are 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.

Following introduction, the bill will be assigned to a House committee for further review.