Ohio Senate Rejects Health Care Coverage Proposals

By Staff Report

Jun. 5, 2009

The Ohio Senate has rejected Gov. Ted Strickland’s proposals that the state Insurance Department said would have provided access to affordable health care insurance for thousands of state residents.

The Senate’s decision Wednesday, June 3, axed the governor’s proposals in the Insurance Department budget that the agency said would have given 110,000 state residents access to private health insurance.

Further, it nixed proposals that would have reformed health insurance open enrollment programs and extended state continuation of health care coverage for employees of small businesses who lose their jobs.

More than 1.3 million Ohioans are uninsured, Mary Jo Hudson, director of the Ohio Department of Insurance, said in a statement.

Specifically, in Amended Substitute House Bill 1, the Ohio Senate removed Gov. Strickland’s proposals that would have reduced the rates insurers can charge people with pre-existing conditions from an average of $800 a month to less than $400, according to the state Insurance Department.

Further, the Insurance Department said the proposals would have required employers to offer uninsured employees the opportunity to purchase coverage with pretax dollars through flexible spending plans, which it said would save up to 40 percent off the cost of coverage for the employees and their families by reducing the income taxes they pay.

Also, the proposals would have extended the state continuation coverage, which operates similar to COBRA.

Employees can use this if they are not eligible for COBRA. This would have extended the coverage from six to 12 months, allowing employees of small businesses that lose their jobs to maintain health insurance for themselves and their families at their own cost.

After December 31, people who work in small businesses will be able to purchase health insurance through their former employer for only six months.

In a statement, Hudson said she hopes members of the Ohio Senate “will reconsider this rejection” when it and the state House of Representatives hold conference committee meetings June 11 and 18.

Filed by Jeff Casale of Business Insurance, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail

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