COLUMBUS — Ohio Lieutenant Governor and Department of Insurance Director Mary Taylor yesterday submitted comments on proposed health insurance exchange rules issued by the federal government this past summer.
The proposed rules, released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), laid out the federal government’s interpretation of how states must operate health insurance exchanges, should they choose to do so, starting in 2014.
“States need flexibility to do what is best for their citizens,” Taylor said. “For that reason, I am urging the federal government to consider significant changes to their proposed rules.”
In her comments, Taylor responded to several HHS proposals by reiterating the Ohio Department of Insurance has been a strong regulatory agency on behalf of Ohio businesses and consumers for years. Therefore, state departments of insurance should have the right to work with their businesses, consumers and insurance carriers to implement something that meets their specific needs. Further, the comments argue states should have the right to make adjustments to their insurance exchanges without seeking federal approval each and every time they wish to do so.
Taylor also expressed serious concern over the mandated timelines for creating a compliant exchange without proper, well-defined guidance. Planning in Ohio – and across the country – to this point has involved assumptions and rough projections due to a lack of final guidance from the federal government.
“Timing is not on the side of the states because the federal government is still unsure what to require,” Taylor added. “States are being told to hurry up and implement without having the specifics of what they need to implement. It is difficult to build something when you are not sure what resources you need, how much it will cost and what it should look like when completed.”
Issues not finalized yet by HHS include: what benefits must be covered in plans offered through the exchange; how states might partner with the federal government in running exchanges should they choose to do so; and what is required of the technology responsible for running the exchange.
The comments submitted to HHS from Taylor can be accessed by clicking on the following link: www.ohioexchange.ohio.gov/Documents/TaylorCommentsOnProposedExchange.pdf.