OAHU Seeks Stakeholder Status to Design Ohio’s Health Coverage

Sec 1332 Waiver and Ohio’s Individual Health Market

As we continue to watch the stalemate in Washington over how to proceed or not proceed with an overhaul of ObamaCare, what may be more relevant to Ohioans is our state regulator’s attempt to gain leverage for more Ohio control to find ways to drive down health insurance cost, increase benefit alternatives and improve access to more doctors and hospitals.

Tucked into the original Obamacare legislation was a section called the 1332 Innovation Waiver.  This gave states, beginning January 1, 2017, a new process to seek modification of key parts of the health law within its boundaries.  This 1332 waiver option offers Ohio an opportunity to fashion a new coverage system customized for Ohio, while still fulfilling the requirements of ObamaCare.

In June of 2015, the Ohio Legislature passed and Governor Kasich signed into law language requiring Ohio’s Insurance Director to seek the 1332 waiver.   Earlier this month Ohio Insurance Director, Jillian Froment sent a letter to CMS Administrator, Seema Verma, requesting “flexibility in the waiver application process and the application’s requirements to allow states to make meaningful impacts on their markets.” Director Froment is seeking relief to guidance published by the Obama Administration to the original waiver process in December 2015. The Director claims this guidance “contained prescriptive rules that severely limit the state’s ability to make meaningful changes that drive down cost, increase alternatives and improve access”. The Director also requests flexibility in the deficit neutrality requirement of the waiver. This flexibility relates specifically to Ohio showing Medicaid savings as an offset to additional costs any future Ohio individual market project would incur that exceeds the line neutrality set by ObamaCare.

The Ohio Association of Health Underwriters will be seeking stakeholder status in the Ohio Waiver application process. There are a number of us in leadership here, along with OAHU’s lobbyist, and the National office working to draft possible solutions to the immediate problem we have with “access” here in the Buckeye state. This means that, through OAHU, you have a seat at the table when changes will be considered.