Reps. Stinziano, Antonio Introduce Bill To Create State Health Insurance Exchange

COLUMBUS, Ohio – State Reps. Michael Stinziano and Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) have introduced legislation (HB 109) to protect more than 234,000 Ohioans from potentially disastrous financial consequences resulting from a United States Supreme Court decision expected in June.

Stinziano, the Ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, and Antonio, the Ranking Democrat on the House Health and Aging Committee, are sponsoring legislation to set up a state health insurance exchange in anticipation of the Supreme Court decision in King v. Burwell which will determine the legality of paying federal premium assistance to Ohioans who enrolled through the federal exchange because Ohio does not run a state health insurance exchange.

“In King v. Burwell, plaintiffs argue that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act only permits premium subsidies in states that operate exchanges,” Stinziano said. “One way or another, the Supreme Court decision is expected to be decided by one vote. No one should underestimate the difficulty of establishing a state run exchange at this late date, but we may have no choice.  June is right around the corner and we need to start working on this now”

 “While we hope the Supreme Court rules that providing assistance to Ohioans is legal, a decision for the plaintiffs in Burwell puts subsidies to Ohioans at risk.  It’s time to consider again whether Ohioans wouldn’t be better served by a state run exchange,” Antonio said.

 “With a state run exchange, Ohio could perhaps extend coverage to more pregnant women not currently enrolled in the Federal Exchange. Providing pre-natal care could go a long way towards driving down Ohio’s abysmal infant mortality rates,” Antonio said.

“Using information provided by the US Department of Health and Human Services, estimates are that Ohioans would lose federal assistance in the amount of $50 million each month or $600 million a year if the Court rules that Ohioans cannot legally receive federal assistance available to residents of the 13 states and the District of Columbia that have established state exchanges,” Stinziano said.

According to HHS, currently Ohio enrollment is 234,507 with nearly 85% of enrollees qualifying for federal assistance averaging $247 each month.

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.

House Bill 109 will be assigned to a House committee for further study.