A bill that likely would mean fewer Ohioans on employer-based health insurance passed a divided Ohio House on Wednesday as supporters argued it would give affected workers less-expensive options on the federal exchange.
Ohio businesses employing between two and 50 workers currently must offer health insurance to employees who work at least 25 hours a week, though the federal Affordable Care Act sets the bar at 30 hours for businesses with at least 100 workers.
House Bill 511 would set the bar at 30 hours. With the options and subsidies available on the federal exchange, supporters say the bill is fair for businesses and good for workers.
“Even though it feels like we’re reducing some things, it actually provides more choices for Ohioans and provides a better opportunity for individuals and businesses,” said Rep. Barbara Sears, R-Sylvania, the bill sponsor.
Rep. Nickie Antonio, D-Lakewood, said she likes most of the bill, arguing that portions “improve the situation for Ohioans as they try to access health care.” But she would not vote for it because of a provision that would reduce from 28 to 26 the age in which a young Ohio adult can remain on a parent’s policy.
Cutting it off at age 26 would place Ohio law in line with the federal health-care law.
The change “will create a burden for some folks that now are able to stay on their parents’ plan,” Antonio said. “We don’t think it penalizes anyone to be on there until age 28.”
But Sears argued that without the change, a person who is age 27 who has access to health insurance through a parent’s plan that is legally considered affordable could not qualify for a federal subsidy on the exchange.
“So keeping it at age 28 we would actually provide less choices,” Sears said.
Roger Geiger, executive director of the National Federation of Independent Business/Ohio, said the bill ensures small businesses that offer health insurance are not under different requirements than larger companies.
“NFIB sees the (bill) not as any embracing of Obamacare, but as a leveling of the playing field for small-business owners in regards to standards they must meet in providing health care to employees,” he said.
The Senate also was active Wednesday, approving:
• House Bill 85, which would double to $50,000 the homestead exemption available to veterans who are permanently and totally disabled. The bill, joint sponsored by Rep. Anne Gonzales, R-Westerville, also exempts those veterans from the current $30,000 income eligibility threshold.
It now goes to the House for a concurrence vote.
• House Bill 314, which would require a doctor to get signed consent from a minor’s parent or guardian before prescribing drugs to the patient. It also requires the doctor to discuss with the parent and patient that the drug may be addictive. Joint sponsored by Rep. Stephanie Kunze, R-Hilliard, the bill goes back to the House for a concurrence vote.
• Senate Bill 234, which would designate I-670 between 4th Street and I-70 as the Dana G. “Buck” Rinehart Highway. Rinehart served as Columbus mayor from 1984 through 1991, during which time I-670 was completed. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Jim Hughes, R-Columbus, goes to the House.
• Senate Bill 54, which requires a mammography facility to notify a woman if it is found that she has dense breast tissue that could produce less-accurate screenings. The bill now goes to the House.
By Jim Siegel - The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio (MCT)
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