Ohio insurance advocates are concerned Republican Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor’s stance against Obamacare will keep her from implementing the law’s provisions in her second role, as head of the state’s Department of Insurance.
Taylor, the former state auditor, has given about 20 speeches and has written several opinion pieces against the Obama healthcare plan since she took the lieutenant governor’s position in January, the Columbus Dispatch
“I will do everything I can to protect Ohio’s citizens and job creators from this catastrophic law,” Taylor wrote in an opinion piece, and more recently, she complained “this law is going to cause an explosion in healthcare spending never seen before.”
Taylor has also returned a $1 million federal grant obtained by former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, a Democrat, to set up a state health-insurance exchange, as required by law. She insisted Ohio already “has a robust consumer assistance division.”
Taylor denied concerns that she won’t implement the law, but acknowledged Gov. John Kasich’s administration wants Obamacare repealed.
“What I’m mostly concerned about is making sure we have an Ohio solution that makes insurance more affordable for the people we are trying to cover,” Taylor said.
However, Taylor, who had earlier this year been rumored to be a potential candidate for U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown’s seat, said she doesn’t consider her speeches or op-ed pieces to be political posturing, but part of her official duties.
“We are reaching out to small-business and community groups,” she said. “Small-business owners are concerned with what impacts their bottom line. They want to hire more, and are concerned about the impending increase of health insurance . . . we’re doing as many of these as I can get scheduled."
States are to have health exchanges operating by 2014, when Obamacare requires most Americans to buy health insurance. Thirteen states have passed the legislation, while others are waiting until the U.S. Supreme Court answers a challenge of the new law before moving forward.
Ohio legislators recently asked GOP leaders if Taylor could outline her efforts, but their request was rejected.
“The costs are huge, and, frankly, we’re going to move very cautiously,” said Rep. Lynn R. Wachtmann, who is chairman of the health and aging committee. “We think this has no upside for Ohio whatsoever.”
A recent Taylor report projected Ohio’s health insurance premiums could rise by as much as 150 percent in 2014,with costs going up most for those buying individual policies and at lower rates for people opting for employer-sponsored plans.
Cathy Levine, co-chair of Ohio Consumers for Health Coverage, said she understands that Taylor opposes the law, but wonders if the lieutenant still has to follow it.
“What’s troubling is we aren’t having policy conversations in the open with all stakeholders. Lt. Gov. Taylor isn’t providing basic information about the law; she’s railing against it.”
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