Many of you have told us recently that one of the biggest challenges currently facing your companies is finding qualified job applicants who are both willing and able to pass a pre-employment drug screening test. That’s one of the reasons why State Issue 3, the proposed constitutional amendment that would legalize marijuana is so concerning – it would only exacerbate this problem. It would be especially unwise to flood Ohio with marijuana when we’re already facing a serious heroin epidemic.
The increase in heroin addiction has its roots in the widespread use of prescription opioid painkiller drugs. Our state lawmakers are well aware of this vicious epidemic, and are actively pursuing legislative solutions they hope can help address it.
Unfortunately, one current proposal would create other problems for employers, particularly small employers. The bill, House Bill 248, would require all health insurance policies to include coverage for opioids with abuse-deterrent properties and limit cost sharing for these drugs.
HB 248 is, therefore, another health care mandate. It would be the 32nd such mandate in Ohio. Mandates are a big problem for small businesses who want to continue to provide health care coverage to their employees but are also trying to control their rising health care costs.
Last week, the Ohio Chamber and our Ohio Small Business Council (OSBC) expressed opposition to HB 248 in testimony given before the members of the House Health & Aging Committee. Because larger businesses, committee members were told, typically choose to self-insure and thus are not impacted by state mandates, it’s only those who purchase fully-insured health insurance policies that are impacted. These purchasers happen to primarily be small businesses.
Each new mandated benefit leads to an increase in health insurance premiums, and HB 248 would be no exception. According to the Ohio Department of Insurance, the average costs of health insurance plans being offered to small businesses rose 18 percent in 2014, and another 15 percent in 2015. Businesses can’t continue to absorb higher premiums costs. Further increases due to government interference in the marketplace could eventually price many employers out of the market altogether.
In addition, health care mandates unnecessarily limit the freedom small employers need to be able to design a health insurance plan that best meets the needs of their employees. They are instead forced to buy coverage that includes whatever the legislature mandates, effectively leading to a one-size-fits-all health insurance plan.
The Health & Aging Committee has heard from the Ohio Chamber, OSBC, and others regarding HB 248. They also need to hear directly from you. Please take action right now to urge your state representatives to oppose HB 248. You can do so by clicking here.