COLUMBUS – Lieutenant Governor and Department of Insurance Director Mary Taylor testified before a Congressional committee on Wednesday about Ohio’s experience working with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and its federally-funded high risk pools created under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Taylor also expressed her concerns with the ACA and its impacts on Ohio heading into 2014.
Taylor said the concept of high risk pools (programs designed to help consumers with pre-existing conditions unable to obtain private insurance) have benefits, but issues with this ACA program caused regulatory disputes between HHS and the Department of Insurance as well as funding concerns dating back to 2011. Earlier this year, HHS announced it no longer had the funding necessary to continue operating high risk pools across the country.
“Based on the experiences we had with the federal government overseeing the high risk pool, we fear similar problems will arise as the ACA is fully implemented,” Taylor said before the U.S. House of Representatives Health Subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee.
Members of the U.S. House of Representatives have requested additional funding for the high risk pool program. HHS initially calculated that the program would remain solvent until health insurance exchanges become operational Jan. 1, 2014.
Taylor also cited a Department commissioned report conducted by Milliman, Inc. that projects other impacts Ohio will face as the ACA is implemented. The report anticipates average premiums would increase in the individual market in Ohio between 55 percent and 85 percent, and some small businesses could see premium increases of up to 150 percent while others could see decreases of up to 40 percent.
“I am concerned with the lack of flexibility Ohio will have moving forward.” Taylor said. “As we continue our work in Ohio to bring down health care costs and improve the quality of care, we will face significant challenges.”
Taylor encouraged members of Congress to continue working toward a better solution to improve the health care system including more flexibility for states. In the meantime, she said the Kasich administration would continue to focus on reforms being pursued in Ohio to improve the quality of care while lowering costs.