Health Care Supporters Challenge Taylor's Report

Aug 2, 2013

Supporters of the new federal health care law are blasting back at a new report from the state’s chief of insurance, who says premiums will be going up dramatically for Ohioans shopping on the new federally-run marketplace this fall.

Statehouse correspondent Karen Kasler reports that non-partisan information about the ACA – also known as Obamacare – is still hard to come by.

The head of the state’s Department of Insurance is Republican Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor – who also happens to be a vocal critic of the federal Affordable Care Act. She says her office has completed a final review of all plans that will be sold online on the federally-run marketplace called the exchange starting October 1 – and she says it’s bad news for Ohio insurance buyers.
“Premiums in the individual market are going to go up 41% on average. And then if you’re a small business owner looking at your rate comparisons from 2013 to ’14 after you take into account the ACA impact, premiums there will increase 18% on average.”

But the supporters of the law critics call Obamacare say Taylor isn’t telling the whole story with those numbers. Cathy Levine is with Ohio Consumers for Health Coverage, and says she’s not sure where Taylor got her numbers. But Levine says while premiums will be higher for some people, they won’t be for everyone, as she feels Taylor is implying.
“Some people have enjoyed artificially low premiums because people with pre-existing conditions have been shut out at the marketplace. Most middle-class people are going to get tax credits and subsidies that will bring down the actual amount they pay in premiums.”

Taylor admits that’s true, but says there was no way her review could take into account those subsidies since those are calculated with tax and income information, so her office couldn’t determine how much individual consumers could receive in subsidies.
“There will be some Ohio consumers that will receive federal subsidy - we cannot lose this fact, though, that’s being paid for by federal taxpayers. And in fact, the CBO released that by 2016, that subsidy to consumers is going to cost taxpayers $100 billion.”

That’s a common claim about the ACA, and Levine takes issue with it.
“That’s absurd. When the law was passed in 2010, the money was set aside from reducing overpayments to insurance companies for the Medicare prescription drug plan and other sources. This law is fully paid for, so this isn’t going to be a running tab on taxpayers.”

Some states are reporting that premiums and costs to cover what are considered essential benefits required under the ACA will be lower. But Taylor says that’s because their insurance markets were more heavily regulated than Ohio’s, which she says allowed for more competition and choice.  ACA advocates closely tied to the Obama administration are taking note of reports that premiums will be rising in Ohio, Florida and Georgia, and will launch in those states what they call – using their words – a new offensive promoting Obamacare.