Innovation Ohio, a progressive think tank headquartered in Columbus, today charged the Kasich administration with "playing politics at the expense of Ohio taxpayers" by refusing to create the health insurance exchanges called for in the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
The think tank said that while the five states bordering Ohio have pulled down over $130 million in federal exchange grants, Ohio has received only $1 million -and only because the previous Governor, Ted Strickland, applied for it. For a comparison of state grants see http://www.statehealthfacts.org.
According to the Toledo Blade, Lt. Governor Mary Taylor, who is also state Insurance Commissioner, told a Bowling Green audience yesterday that she and Gov. Kasich have determined it would be too expensive for Ohio to set up an exchange, which she estimated "would cost between $30 and $40 million per year to operate...plus initial start-up costs."
Insurance exchanges are marketplaces where individuals and small businesses can shop for affordable health insurance plans that best fit their needs. The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the ACA on June 28. States refusing to create exchanges will have one created for them by the federal government.
The Kasich administration complains that they don't have the money to set up a state insurance exchange, estimating their cost at $30 to 40 million per year. Yet, for two years, they've refused to apply for federal planning grants that could have been used for this very purpose.
Said IO President Janetta King:
"The Kasich administration complains that they don't have the money to set up a state insurance exchange. But whose fault is that? For two years, they've sat on their hands and refused to apply for the federal funding expressly designed for that purpose. On June 29, the White House announced that states can even use planning grants to pay exchange operating costs. Meanwhile, Kentucky has pulled down over $66 million, which would be more than enough to pay the $30-$40 million Lt. Gov. Taylor says is necessary to operate an Ohio exchange in the first year. In subsequent years, many states are planning to finance exchange operations through a modest user fee on insurance companies in return for all the new business they'll be getting. Maybe that's why 35 states have applied for and gotten more grant money than Ohio has. The Lt. Governor even returned a $1 million federal grant Ohio received to help consumers challenge claim denials by insurance companies. What the Kasich administration is doing borders on malfeasance."