John Dodd, Jr., president of the Ohio Association of Health Underwriters (OAHU), led a “meet the candidates” panel discussion during the CAHU September 13 chapter meeting, at Hollywood Casino Columbus.
The Guest Candidates:
• 2nd Ohio House District, Rep. Mark Romanchuk (R)
• 17th Ohio House District, Rep. Adam Miller (D)
• 18th Ohio House District, Rep. Kristin Boggs (D)
• 19th Ohio House District, Tim Barhorst (R)
• 21st Ohio House District, Stu Harris (R)
• 22nd Ohio House District, David Leland (D)
• 24th Ohio House District, Erik Yassenoff (R)
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What’s the Role of the Associations of Health Underwriters?
When I first got with the Health Underwriters, I was a part of the Life Underwriters. It was really more or less just a social thing, but when I became aware of how the Health Underwriters was so involved in legislative issues and had such a presence downtown at the State House, as well as nationally, that that’s what got me excited about being involved. Because health insurance as we all know, and employee benefits as well, do exist basically at the legislative process. So as we get into products and services, we’re constantly looking over our shoulder at what our legislators are doing, federally and on the state level. So those of us who are involved in this, see this. We’re trying to get more of Ohio’s insurance community, particular people in health and employee benefits, to see the same thing that we see, that we saw today, that we can make a difference downtown. We can have an impact as far as change for the better, for not just ourselves but our consumers, our customers.
What was Today’s “Meet the Candidates” Event About?
Today we had seven legislators. We had four Republicans, three Democrats. We did that on purpose to have a bipartisan discussion on several issues that we as an association have been working on, that are important as we head into next year with a new administration, with some of these folks being elected to the House and Senate. We think we accomplished what we set out to do, which was two things. We wanted to get opinions and statements from the legislators on some of these issues, but we also want to educate them as well, because some our issues can be rather complicated.
TOPIC 1: Senate Bill 227
The Senate bill that is currently—has been passed in both Senate and House, is going back to committee. We expect that that will have serious consideration for passage possibly in the lame-duck session. What that does, is it would allow employers with 50 or more employees to have access to their claims information year to year. It would also standardize a format, because right now you can go to an insurance company—won’t name insurance companies, but you might get a claims experience that has a different format from the other three or four. So not only does it create claims experience, but it standardizes the format. So if you were going to get multiple bids out and you created the same format for all insurers, that’s just an easier system for the carriers. The idea here is that the Affordable Care Act has created a market under 50 for employers, but many of those employers are looking to extend out into the self-funded market. In order to do anything in the self-funded markets, whether it’s in a small group situation or a large group situation, the insurance companies want to see claims experience, they want to see medical information. They’re looking at criteria to adjust the rates. The claims experience could go a long way to making the process easier for our customers. And again, make it simpler to go out for bid year to year, which is we want to get back to where we used to be in that category. So very pleased that they’re willing to consider that. There are some risks involved. People are concerned that their information might be compromised as individuals, but there are safeguards built into the Senate bill that we advocate, that would create no problems in that category.
TOPIC 2: 1332 Waivers
We talked about the 1332 waiver. That, again, something that we have been advocating through the process that the Affordable Care Act set up and that the state of Ohio will more than likely, in the new administration, look to send a new waiver request in. We hope to be a stakeholder as we were in the last process. And again, I think that’s something our members don’t know, is that we were asked, along with the Ohio Association of Health Plans, to be the major stakeholders as far as advice to the regulators on that subject. So we felt very pleased and appreciative that we were included in that process.
TOPIC 3: Transparency
We talked about transparency a lot. That’s something that everybody seems to agree on. Everybody on the panel today thinks that not only individuals should have access to information that they’re going to need to make good choices as far as their health care, but also just provide a situation where insurance companies and medical providers are working together so that that information can be used to cut down the costs; cut down on mistakes on bills, make sure that you’re not overpaying for a procedure that you could have gotten two blocks away. Those are the things that we advocate for. We do see very positive comments coming back from the panel today on that subject. And again, that’s a very broad subject. There was a statute that was passed, but it has been suspended and we hope to take that suspended statute back to the legislature next year with other groups, and see if we can make that happen.
TOPIC 4: Medicaid Expansion
The last thing we talked about today was Medicaid expansion, which can be a very controversial subject for a lot of legislators. I was impressed with their commitment to that. They were warned beforehand, before they came here, that we would ask that question. I thought they were very honest in their evaluation of it. I don’t think anybody flat out rejected Medicaid expansion, but of course, there’s a lot of details that go into that. I think they—I was actually very surprised at the positive comments that came out about keeping expansions. So that was very good.
Why Get Involved in the Association of Health Underwriters?
Obviously, being the president of a state association and working with the local CAHU leadership and as well as the other locals around the state, we are trying to get the word out this year legislatively. There’s a lot of reasons that you could join together and work together to try to make our industry more effective, our relationships with the carriers. The more numbers we have, the more serious people take us. I think that there’s a number of people in our state, in our communities, who are very successful in our business, who really, we should be asking them to give back like we have.
So my appeal to those people is that, take a look at what’s going on, not just at the federal level, but the state level. Look at what we’re doing to try to make not only your customers, put them in a better situation , but your insurance agency practices as well. So yes, we are definitely interested in getting the word out, that we have the ear of the legislators and we intend to get the ear of the new governor, as well as the new insurance director next year. So that’s my appeal to those of us, those in our industry who are not members yet, open invitation, we’d love to have you.