Kasich Administration Will Not Create Ohio Obamacare Exchange

Ohio Department of Insurance Director Mary Taylor announced today that Ohio will not create a health insurance exchange as directed by President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the law commonly referred to as Obamacare. In a press call following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision upholding most of the law, Taylor — who also serves as Ohio’s Lieutenant Governor — said the state will allow the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to implement an exchange in Ohio rather than comply with the law’s expansive regulations regarding state-operated exchanges.

Commenting on the Kasich administration’s reaction to the Supreme Court decision, Taylor said, “We believe today, as we have been saying, that the best solution is for Congress to repeal Obamacare, and our hope is that a new White House and a new Congress will ultimately achieve that next year.”

Taylor informed Media Trackers in May that no decision about Ohio’s health insurance exchanges had been made, pending Supreme Court deliberations.

“At this point, the governor and I don’t see how it is in the best interest of Ohioans to have a state-run exchange,” Taylor announced today. “Quite frankly, we don’t even see where the additional money would come from in order for us to run that exchange. We estimate, based on the reports that were issued last year by the Department of Insurance, that it would be an additional $43 million new state money, on an annual basis, in order for us to run a state-based exchange.”

“Again, this is where we are today, based on the information that we have and the information that we have worked on over the last year and several months,” Taylor added.

Questioned about the possibility of a “hybrid” exchange managed by a partnership between Ohio and HHS, Taylor replied that she is “waiting on additional guidance from HHS and the federal government – they need to clarify the rules around what a partnership means in order for us to make that decision, ultimately. And of course, once we get additional guidance from HHS we’ll be better positioned to say.”

Justifying the decision not to implement a state-run health insurance exchange, Taylor said, “the cost is but one reason, but there are also additional questions around: do we have the options or the flexibility to ultimately have an exchange that’s best for Ohio? When we talk about the additional spending, we’re talking about what it’s going to cost not only to operate the exchange on an annual basis, but we also have to take into account the additional $369 million that we’re obligated to spend on Medicaid.”

Lieutenant Governor Taylor has frequently cited Obamacare’s complexity, ill-defined rules, and onerous federal regulations when explaining why the Ohio Department of Insurance has not requested federal grants for exchange implementation. Taylor has also emphasized that, in her belief, Ohio cannot afford the additional expansion of government which compliance with Obamacare represents.

Asked why the Kasich administration has decided an HHS-managed exchange — which Obamacare calls for in the absence of a state exchange — is the best path for Ohio, Taylor replied,”clearly, the governor and I are opposed to Obamacare period, and we believe the best solution is for it to be repealed and to give states the flexibility to deal with these kinds of issues in the way that’s best for each state.”

“We have concluded, again, at this point that it’s the lesser of two evils — but it’s not where we would be given an option to have Obamacare repealed.”

Media Trackers has reported previously that the Ohio Department of Insurance, under Taylor’s leadership, has drawn the ire of left-wing groups by failing to create an Obamacare-compliant health insurance exchange. Conservative policy analysts have strongly advised states against implementing Obamacare exchanges — affirming many of the justifications Taylor has given, and arguing that flaws in the bill are all but certain to make federally-run exchanges unworkable.

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