Ohio insurer faces Obamacare repeal challenge
The insurer that’s been targeted by Republicans in the wake of President Donald Trump’s healthcare overhaul is looking to fend off a possible repeal of the law.
Ohioans will soon be able to buy private insurance through the Affordable Care Act’s insurance marketplaces, and insurers will no longer be required to cover people with pre-existing conditions.
But in a move that could stoke the ire of some of President Trump’s most loyal supporters, the Ohio Insurance Commissioner on Wednesday asked the Federal Trade Commission to intervene and stop the federal government from regulating insurance plans.
The Ohio Insurance Commissioners office, which is part of the agency tasked with protecting consumers, asked the agency to stop the Trump administration’s rules and impose a requirement that insurers cover people who are not in “high-risk pools” with higher rates.
The agency is tasked with overseeing the insurance market in the state, which Trump won by about 6 percentage points in November.
The move comes a week after Ohioans who have signed up for coverage through the insurance exchange faced a rocky transition to the individual market, where they were required to buy insurance from their employers.
Ohioans have been asked to purchase coverage through Obamacare’s insurance markets since the law’s launch in 2015.
But many Ohioans are now barred from buying insurance on the exchanges because of the Trumpcare regulations, which the state legislature has passed to prevent the federal subsidies that the Affordable Health Care Act provides to help low-income people purchase insurance.
On Wednesday, the agency asked the FTC to intervene because the federal rules will not only make insurance companies and consumers more expensive, they will also be inconsistent with state law and will violate the states’ right to regulate health insurance, according to the request.
“We’re asking the FTC for a declaratory ruling that this regulation is inconsistent with federal law, that it violates the Ohio Consumer Protection Act, and that it is contrary to state law,” the request states.
According to the commission’s request, insurers in Ohio are required to offer “health insurance coverage to all people regardless of their ability to pay for it.”
The request comes as insurance companies are being sued for breaching Obamacare’s consumer protections and the state’s open enrollment period.
In May, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine filed a lawsuit on behalf of 10 health insurers and four companies that claimed they have been harmed by the Trump-era rules, which have resulted in insurers being forced to raise premiums on plans, delay plans for people with preexisting conditions and make claims about health care quality that aren’t supported by science.
In the filing, DeWines office said the lawsuit was designed to “create uncertainty and increase the risk that consumers will not be able or will not choose the coverage that is best for them.”
The request from the Ohio insurance commissioner comes just weeks after the agency also sought to block the TrumpCare regulations, asking the agency not to enforce the regulations or impose additional mandates.
The request from Ohio, however, said it could not “intervene in a proceeding that is not a federal court proceeding.”
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