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Democrats propose universal health-care coverage for Ohio

(October 24, 2017) — State lawmakers are proposing legislation that would give health insurance to all Ohioans.

State Reps. Teresa Fedor, D-Toledo, and Bernadine Kennedy Kent, D-Columbus, announced the Ohio Health Security Act on Tuesday morning. There was no immediate cost estimate.

“Ohio Health Security Act ensures that all Ohioans have health insurance, meeting the basic needs of all Ohioans and providing affordable health options for our citizens,” Fedor said.

She said an estimated 1.5 million Ohioans lack health insurance.

The Ohio Health Security Act would be administered by the Ohio Health Care Agency, which will operate under the direction of the Ohio Healthcare Board. The board will consist of two elected representatives from each of the seven regions covering the state as well as the Ohio director of health, Fedor said.

“The board will negotiate or set prices for health-care services provided under the plan and pay for those services,” Fedor said. The legislation will be introduced in the Ohio House.

Forty percent of the counties nationwide that will leave citizens with one option or less for health-care coverage in 2018 are in Ohio, Kennedy Kent said.

“This is not acceptable,” Kennedy Kent said. “What are our less fortunate neighbors in counties all around Ohio supposed to do with inadequate health care coverage? Plain and simple, they suffer and oftentimes die.”

The Ohio Health Security Act will cover dental, vision and mental health, she said.

“Citizens can go to any hospital or doctor they choose,” Kennedy Kent said.

The bill would be public-funded which means taxes, and they have commissioned an economic impact study that will be done in March, Debbie Silverstein, state director of SPAN Ohio, said.

“I don’t want to say there would be no tax increase, but I don’t want to say that everyone’s going to start paying large taxes. We have to wait till those numbers come in,” Silverstein said.

Dr. Kathy Lambes, an adult internal medicine and pediatrics in Dayton, has seen many patients who try to stretch their medicine or are unable to follow up with

appointments to costs and health insurance. Sometimes, she is overcome with emotion and cries with the patients.

“The tears just come and I can’t help it … it’s an injustice,” Dr. Lambes said.

Megan Henry is a fellow in the E.W. Scripps Statehouse News Bureau.