The General Assembly has now recessed, and lawmakers have returned to their districts to begin focusing on their fall re-election campaigns. The Senate is scheduled to be back in Columbus for two weeks beginning in late September, while the House won’t return until after the November 8 General Election.
Our Legislative Wrap-Up blog series will recap the accomplishments and also highlight a few things that the Ohio Chamber will continue to push for when the legislature returns later this year. There will be seven blog posts, each focusing on specific policy areas. Part three will detail health care policy.
One issue that never goes away is one-size-fits-all government mandates. At least a half dozen health care mandate bills have been introduced. The mandates would:
– force health insurance companies to provide coverage for specific health benefits in all the plans they offer, or
-limit the amount that covered individuals can be required to pay for certain benefits or services, irrespective of what that benefit or service actually costs.
However well intentioned these mandates may be, in the end they increase the cost of health insurance – particularly on small businesses – and stifle the flexibility in plan design that many employers rely upon to help control health care costs.
Two of these bills have received significant consideration, though neither has yet passed. House Bill 248 would have mandated coverage for prescription opioid drugs that employ abuse deterrent technology and also would have limited any cost sharing requirements for these more expensive drug formulations. However, once the legislators who sponsored the bill understood how their legislation would have resulted in higher health insurance premiums, they agreed to remove both the mandate and the cost sharing limitations from the bill. After HB 248 was amended to remove these provisions and the Ohio Chamber withdrew our opposition, it passed out of committee and currently awaits a vote by the full House.
A second bill containing a health insurance mandate has also passed out of committee in the House. House Bill 350 requires coverage for the screening, diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorder in all grandfathered plans and group plans offered to employers with more than 50 lives.
The Ohio Chamber has urged the legislature to pursue an alternative approach to helping families who are struggling with the physical, emotional and financial toll of a child’s autism diagnosis. Fortunately, the cosponsors of HB 350 are open to considering alternatives, and conversations are likely to occur over the summer that could lead to revisions to the bill that will still help autistic children get the services they need, but do so without penalizing small businesses at the same time.
Part four will cover labor and employment policy.