Former Insurance Department Director Wants to Remove Protections for Health Care Consumers
COLUMBUS — As Senate Republicans today unveil Trumpcare 3.0, Ohioans are learning how the bill would gut key consumer protections and give power back to the insurance companies — provisions backed by Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, who recently stepped down as director of the Ohio Department of Insurance, allowing her to raise money from the insurance industry.
“It’s not enough that Mary Taylor wants to end Medicaid expansion — which covers 700,000 Ohioans and has the support of Gov. John Kasich,” said Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper. “Now Taylor — the former insurance industry regulator — says she wants to roll back consumer protections by letting Ohio opt out of requirements that insurance companies cover essential health benefits like mental health coverage and addiction treatment or maternity care. At a moment when Ohio is facing the nation’s worst opioid epidemic and has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the country, Mary Taylor wants to pull the rug out from under Ohio families and force Ohioans to pay more for watered-down plans that don’t provide the coverage that they desperately need. It’s unconscionable.”
TAYLOR: Well what I’d like to see the feds do, and I think they started to get there in the House bill, which is restoring flexibility to states so that through the waiver, there’s waiver language in the bill, and giving us, through waiver, or otherwise, the flexibility to design, again going back to even a Medicaid system, that helps us address the needs of individuals. Medicaid should be helping those in their time of need with a hand up, ultimately, with the goal of getting off Medicaid and being an independent individual, or an independent family. There are so many restraints around the way the Medicaid system designs, that we don’t have the flexibility that we need to address individual needs of individuals, which, ultimately, is what we should strive for. I do think that in Washington they need to restore flexibility back to the states with regard to health insurance. There are so many mandates in this one-size-fits-all approach out of Washington; it’s not working in Ohio. And so, I would like to see them repeal the mandates on this mandated coverage that every single individual has to have the exact same type of health insurance plan, regardless of their individual needs or what they can or want to pay for health insurance. So, you know, if they’re listening to me in Washington, that’s what I would ask for.
According to PolitiFact, the Senate version of Trumpcare “opens the door to a weakening” of the essential health benefits provision by allowing states to “opt out of some of the requirements if they apply to the federal government for a waiver.”
The president-elect of the American Psychiatric Association said, “Eliminating requirements for coverage of key benefits, including mental health and substance use disorders and other patient protections that are part of the Affordable Care Act, will have detrimental impacts for millions.”
Families USA estimates that about one in five Americans didn’t have coverage for mental health care before the Affordable Care Act. One in three didn’t have coverage for substance use treatment, and more than three in five people didn’t have maternity coverage.
The Center for American Progress calculates that in states that allow insurance companies to charge people more for a substance abuse disorder/mental health benefits “rider,” coverage for drug dependence treatment would cost an extra $20,450.
At a community meeting on the opioid epidemic in Ashland County this week, Taylor discussed her family’s struggle with addiction.
At that same meeting, a local mental health director “praised Medicaid expansion that was employed by Kasich, because it allows addicts to find treatment.”