During almost every General Assembly, a variety of bills get introduced that would mandate specific benefits be covered by every health insurance plan sold in Ohio. Unfortunately, this General Assembly is no exception, as there are six bills pending that would require health insurance plans to cover treatment for a specific disease, illness, or condition.
Health care mandates increase the cost of health insurance and stifle the flexibility in plan design many employers rely upon to help control health care costs. This, in turn, compromises the quality, affordable coverage that employers provide for employees and their families.
Usually, pro-business legislators, who recognize how mandates add to the difficulty that small businesses, in particular, face in continuing to offer health care benefits to their employees, help thwart new mandates from becoming law. This time, however, two of the pending bills may have a greater likelihood of passing, due largely to the fact that both have Republicans as their primary sponsors. The Ohio Chamber strongly opposes both bills.
One, House Bill 248, would force health insurers to include coverage for all “abuse-deterrent opioid analgesic drugs.” These are safer versions of commonly abused prescription opioid drugs that are formulated in such a way that either their narcotic effects are blocked when abused, or they are difficult or impossible to snort or inject when crushed or dissolved.
The other is House Bill 350, which would further expand a decision originally made by Gov. John Kasich in 2012 to force most fully insured small group and individual health plans to cover the screening, diagnosis and treatment of autism. HB 350 would extend the mandate instituted by Gov. Kasich further by applying it to what are called “grandfathered plans” under Obamacare. Grandfathered plans are plans that were already in place when President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act in 2010. They don’t have to follow all of Obamacare’s rules and regulations or offer the otherwise required list of benefits.
To help educate lawmakers about the costs and consequences that come with this type of unnecessary government intervention, the Ohio Chamber’s Small Business Council (OSBC) last week hosted a special Statehouse briefing for lawmakers. The legislators who attended may need to quickly draw on this newfound knowledge, as HB 248 is having its third hearing in the House Health & Aging Committee on Wednesday, which indicates a committee vote may not be far off. The Ohio Chamber and OSBC will be testifying in opposition to HB 248 at this week’s hearing. To view the health care mandate fact sheet that was distributed at the event, click here.
Lawmakers also need to hear directly from you concerning these bills. Please take action right now to tell your state representatives how mandates increase your health care costs and urge them to oppose any new one-size-fits-all government mandates. You can do so by clicking here.