by German Lopez
Posted In: News
, Health care
at 01:59 PM | Permalink
Ohio family of four could pay $156 a month after tax credits for cheapest bronze plan
Health insurance premiums for the Affordable Care Act’s (“Obamacare”)
marketplaces will be 16 percent lower than
previously projected, according to the latest estimates from the nonpartisan
Congressional Budget Office.
released on Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS),
comes less than one week before online marketplaces are set to open on
In Ohio, the average 27-year-old making $25,000 a year
will have to pay $145 a month after tax credits for the second cheapest
“silver” plan, the designation given to the middle-of-the-pack plans
under Obamacare. Without tax credits, the second cheapest silver plan
would cost the 27-year-old $212 a month.
Meanwhile, the average Ohio family of four making $50,000 a
year will have to pay $282 a month after tax credits for the second
cheapest silver plan, or $486 less than the plan would cost without tax
Under Obamacare, online marketplaces will allow consumers
to compare and purchase health insurance plans in the individual market.
Participants with an annual income between 100 percent and 400 percent
of the federal poverty level, or individuals making between $11,490 and
$45,960, will also be eligible for tax subsidies, with the highest
incomes getting the smallest subsidies and the lowest incomes getting
The plans only apply to the individual market, which means
the majority of Americans, who are currently getting insurance through
an employer or public programs, will be under a different insurance
system and won’t qualify for the online marketplaces’ tax subsidies.
HHS estimates the average Ohioan will be able to choose between 46 different plans, excluding catastrophic options.
Some states will be less fortunate, with Alabamians in particular only having an average of seven plans to choose from.
The plans will be designated as bronze, silver, gold or platinum,
with bronze covering less services but costing the least and platinum
covering more services but costing the most.
The federal government was originally expecting states to
set up most of the online marketplaces, but it’s had to carry some or
the entire burden in 36 states, including Ohio, after state governments
refused the full task.
Beating projections doesn’t necessarily make Obamacare a
success. That’s why outreach campaigns plan to advertise the law’s
benefits to Ohioans and others across the nation through March, after
which enrollment will temporarily close until October 2014.
The outreach efforts are important to the law’s success
because the federal government estimates it will need to enroll 2.7
million young adults out of the 7 million it expects to sign up overall.
Otherwise, Americans who are older — and therefore less likely to be
healthy — will fill up the marketplaces, exhaust health services and
drive up costs.
At the same time, Republican legislators in Ohio and other
states have put restrictions on some of the outreach efforts to avoid what Republicans call potential abuses and conflicts of interest. In
Cincinnati, the state-level restrictions have blocked Cincinnati
Children’s Hospital Medical Center from participating as a “navigator,” or a group that will help guide the uninsured and others through the enrollment process.
CityBeat covered the outreach efforts and Republican efforts to obstruct them in further detail here.Update: Clarified metal-based classifications for different health care plans.
by German Lopez
Ohio could weaken energy rules, city wins green award, Obamacare beats projections
CityBeat is participating in a City Council candidate forum on Oct. 5. Have any questions you would like to ask candidates? Submit them here.Ohio legislators appear ready to weaken environmental and energy regulations
after months of lobbying by Akron, Ohio-based utility company
FirstEnergy. The utility company argues the regulations, particularly
energy efficiency standards that require customers use less electricity,
cost businesses and customers too much money. But environmental groups
and other supporters of the rules say FirstEnergy is just looking out for its own
self-interests while putting up a front of caring about others. A
study by the Ohio State University and the Ohio Advanced Energy Economy
coalition found eliminating the energy efficiency standards
would cost Ohioans $3.65 billion more on electricity bills over the
next 12 years. State Sen. Bill Seitz, who’s spearheading the
regulation-weakening efforts, formally introduced his bill yesterday, and business groups say it’s a backdoor way to eliminate energy efficiency standards and the in-state renewable business by weakening them so much.
Meanwhile, Cincinnati on Tuesday announced it won a 2013 Green Power Leadership Award
from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) because of local
efforts to draw down dirty energy production and replace it with clean
sources. The Cincinnati area currently produces nearly 408 million
kilowatt-hours through green energy sources, which is enough to cancel
out nearly 60,000 cars’ emissions and meet 14 percent of the community’s
purchased electricity use, according to city officials. To commemorate
the award, Mayor Mark Mallory unveiled a Green Power Community sign at
the Cincinnati Zoo, which installed solar panels on its parking lot in
2011 and became one of the region’s leading clean energy producers.
Raw health insurance premiums for Obamacare’s online marketplaces will be 16 percent lower than previously projected,
according to the latest estimates from the nonpartisan Congressional
Budget Office released less than one week before marketplaces open on
Oct. 1. In Ohio, the average family of four making $50,000 a year will
have to pay $282 a month after tax credits for the second cheapest
“silver” plan, or $486 less than the plan would cost without tax
credits. Under Obamacare, online marketplaces will allow consumers to
compare and purchase subsidized health insurance plans in the individual
market. The plans only apply to the individual market, which means the
majority of Americans, who are currently getting insurance through an
employer or public programs, will be under a different insurance system
and won’t qualify for the online marketplaces’ tax subsidies. CityBeat covered outreach efforts for the online marketplaces — and Republican attempts to obstruct them — in further detail here.
Commentary: “Let Them Eat Nothing?”
The Charter Committee, Cincinnati’s unofficial third
party, yesterday endorsed Roxanne Qualls for mayor. The endorsement
comes as little surprise to most election-watchers, considering the
Charter Committee has endorsed Qualls four times over the years.
The Cincinnati Enquirer is displeased
it couldn’t cover a private mayoral debate between Qualls and
ex-Councilman John Cranley because the group hosting the debate closed its doors
to the public.
Ohio Democrats yesterday made their endorsements for 2014: Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald for governor, former
Hamilton County Commissioner David Pepper for attorney general, State
Sen. Nina Turner for secretary of state, State Rep. Connie Pillich for
state treasurer and Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Judge John
O’Donnell for the Ohio Supreme Court.
This infographic released by an anti-privatization group shows the negative impact of private prisons. CityBeat covered Ohio’s own privately owned prison and the problems it’s faced, including rising violence, in further detail here.
A federal grand jury charged a North Canton man
for allegedly making illegal campaign contributions to U.S. Rep. Jim
Renacci and Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel. Both candidates returned the
campaign contributions after they became public in stories published by
the Toledo Blade and The New Republic.
A 43-year-old Hamilton man allegedly used a poison-laced knife to stab his brother-in-law.
A supposedly sexist gorilla is getting kicked out of the Dallas Zoo after 18 years.
by German Lopez
State GOP restricts Obamacare, group fights homelessness, school grades linked to poverty
As the Oct. 1 opening date approaches for the Affordable Care Act’s (“Obamacare”) online marketplaces, outreach campaigns are beginning to take root and aim at states with the largest uninsured populations,
including Ohio and its more than 1.25 million uninsured. But the
campaigns have run into a series of problems in the past few months,
with many of the issues driven by regulatory changes and opposition from
Republican legislators at the state and federal level. So far, none of
the state’s “navigators” — the federally financed organizations that
will participate in outreach campaigns and help enroll people into
marketplaces — have been certified by the Ohio Department of Insurance
as they await completion of 20-hour federal training courses. Meanwhile,
some organizations have been shut out of the process entirely,
including Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, because of
regulations enacted by state Republicans.
Strategies to End Homelessness yesterday released its first annual progress report
detailing how the organization intends to reduce homelessness in
Hamilton County by half from 2012 to 2017. The main strategies,
according to the report: prevention, rapid rehousing that lasts six to
12 months, transitional housing for up to 24 months and permanent
supportive housing that targets the chronically homeless and disabled.
The goal is to reduce homelessness by using supportive services to get
to the root of the issue, whether it’s joblessness, mental health
problems or other causes, and ensure shelter services aren’t necessary
in the first place.
A new study found Ohio school performance is strongly tied to student poverty. Damon Asbury of the Ohio School Boards Association says the results shouldn’t make
excuse for low-performing schools, but he claims there are other
factors the state government should consider when grading schools,
including whether low-performing schools actually need more, not less,
funding to make up for a lack of resources. Greg Lawson of the
conservative Buckeye Institute seems to agree, but he says his
organization, which supports school choice and vouchers, will soon
release a study showing no correlation between state and local funding
and student performance.
CityBeat commentaries:• “Republican Prudes Hold Down Ohio’s Economy.”• “Poor Jenny, Poor Cincinnati.”
The Cincinnati Enquirer yesterday held its endorsement interviews with mayoral candidates Roxanne Qualls and John Cranley, with some of the highlights posted here. Also, check out CityBeat’s previous Q&A’s with the candidates: Qualls and Cranley.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine says the state’s Identity Theft Unit has received 600 complaints and helped adjust $250,000 in disputed charges since its creation last year.
Libertarian Charlie Earl yesterday announced he’ll run in the 2014 gubernatorial race. Earl served in the Ohio House from 1981 to 1984 and ran unsuccessfully for secretary of state in 2010.
Cincinnati State is getting a $2.75 million federal grant to expand the school’s manufacturing program in the region.
Cincinnati Children’s is testing a new bird flu vaccine.
The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County received the Auditor of State Award with Distinction for a clean audit report.
A new study suggests people act more selfishly when interacting with wide-faced men.
Groups attempt to educate Ohio’s uninsured while the GOP tries to slow down Obamacare
4 Comments · Wednesday, September 18, 2013
As the Oct. 1 opening date approaches for
the Affordable Care Act’s (“Obamacare”) online marketplaces, outreach
campaigns are beginning to take root and aim at states with the largest
uninsured populations, including Ohio.
by German Lopez
Posted In: News
, Health care
at 11:46 AM | Permalink
Out 2 Enroll considers Ohio a critical enrollment area
A national organization is looking at Ohio’s LGBT
community as a potential target for a nationwide campaign that will
raise awareness about the Affordable Care Act’s (“Obamacare”)
enacted changes and benefits.
Kellan Baker, founder of Out 2 Enroll and associate
director of LGBT Health Policy at the Center for American Progress,
explains the campaign is crucial for Ohio and other parts of the country
because gay, lesbian, bisexual and particularly transgendered groups
are often uninsured at greater levels than the rest of the population —
both because of poorly targeted outreach efforts and outright
“We’re hoping to provide the tools that these systems need
to see where LGBT people are and include them in these efforts so LGBT
community members can get the benefits that they need,” Baker says.
To accomplish that, Baker’s team is using data collected
through focus groups and other research to establish messages that will
resonate with LGBT communities and land in hotspots in which the groups
Some of the messaging is as simple as putting pictures of
gay couples on brochures. Other times, it will involve reaching deep
into specific LGBT circles and social media — perhaps even Grindr, the
popular phone application that gay men use to arrange dates and other
In its messaging, Out 2 Enroll will tout the potential
benefits of Obamacare: tax subsidies, online marketplaces that will
allow participants to compare insurance plans and new regulations that
protect LGBT groups from discrimination in the health care and insurance
Baker says the efforts could be particularly critical for
transgendered individuals. According to focus groups conducted by
PerryUndem Research & Communication, the transgendered population
has generally felt misunderstood and discriminated against when trying
to obtain health insurance. Complaints about intrusive, inappropriate
questions and being misgendered were fairly common.
In some cases, the discrimination wasn’t subtle. Until new
regulations were enacted through Obamacare, insurance companies were
able to withhold some medical services and refuse coverage
altogether by treating gender identity issues as a pre-existing
Gays, lesbians and bisexuals have faced their own
discrimination as well: The focus groups found one in three respondents
in a same-sex relationship tried to get partner coverage through an
employer plan; of those, 50 percent had trouble getting partner coverage and 72 percent felt discriminated against during the process.
Baker explains that helping with many of these cases could
be as simple as raising awareness about Obamacare’s LGBT benefits.
Although 64 percent of respondents in the focus groups knew about Obamacare’s mandate to
obtain health insurance, 71 percent had not heard about new coverage
options made available through the federal law.
To reverse the statistical trend and ensure Obamacare’s
success, Baker says Out 2 Enroll and other groups partnering with Enroll
America will have to target critical enrollment areas with large
uninsured populations, including Ohio.
A recent analysis from the Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati put Ohio’s population of uninsured working-age Ohioans at 1.25 million.
The outreach campaign will mostly play out in the next six
months, as online marketplaces open for enrollment on Oct. 1 and
remain open until April.
by German Lopez
Cranley and Qualls win mayoral primary, state limits Obamacare, zoo levy renewal on ballot
Ex-Councilman John Cranley decisively defeated Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls
as both Democratic mayoral candidates won the primary election and
advanced to the general election. With all precincts reporting, Cranley
got 55.9 percent of the vote and Qualls picked up 37.2 percent,
according to unofficial results from the Hamilton County Board of Elections.
But voter turnout for yesterday’s primary was especially low at 5.68
percent; in comparison, turnout was 15 percent during the primary held
on Sept. 11, 2001 — the day of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade
Center and Pentagon — and 21 percent in the 2005 mayoral primary. In the
past two mayoral races with primaries, whoever won the primary election
lost the general election. Voters will make the final choice for mayor
between Qualls and Cranley on Nov. 5.
Limitations imposed by Ohio lawmakers who oppose the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) have forced Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center to give up a $124,419 federal grant
that would have gone toward helping uninsured Ohioans navigate new
online marketplaces for health insurance. State legislators say the
regulations are supposed to clarify who qualifies as a “navigator” under
Obamacare to avoid potential abuses and conflicts of interest, but
Obamacare’s supporters say Republicans are just trying to make the law
more difficult to implement. Under Obamacare, participating
organizations are classified as navigators so they can help promote new
online marketplaces and tax subsidies to meet the law’s enrollment
goals. By losing its classification as a navigator, Cincinnati
Children’s Hospital can no longer help in that outreach effort.
After getting approval from county commissioners, the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden is asking voters to renew a levy that will appear as Issue 2 on the Nov. 5 ballot. The renewal wouldn’t
increase taxes from today’s rates, but it would keep property taxes $10
higher for every $100,000 of home value. It will go to the care,
feeding and maintenance of the zoo’s animals and botanical gardens. A
study from the University of Cincinnati Economic Center found the zoo had a $143 million impact on the Cincinnati area in 2012
— representing nearly 3.9 times the zoo’s total spending — and produced
1,700 jobs and nearly $1.6 million in tax revenue for Cincinnati and
State Rep. John Carney announced yesterday that he will run for state auditor.
Carney, a Democrat, will aim to replace Republican Dave Yost. He says
his run will “bring much-needed bipartisanship and transparency back to
our state government,” particularly by ending the one-party rule in many
state offices. Carney also took aim at JobsOhio, the privatized
development agency that has been mired in scandals in the past few
months. Yost split with his fellow Republicans when he pursued a full
audit of JobsOhio’s public and private funds, but Republican state
legislators cut the debate short by passing a law that made the agency
insusceptible to a full audit.
Two Ohio prison guards are suspended with pay
after the apparent suicide of Ariel Castro, the Cleveland man who was
convicted to a life sentence for holding three women captive and beating
and raping them. The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction
is investigating whether proper protocols were followed to avoid
Campaign contributions to Republican Gov. John Kasich and Democratic opponent Ed FitzGerald came from people the gubernatorial candidates appointed to government positions.
In the case of Kasich, the contributions are legal under state law. But
the $1,000 contribution to FitzGerald was returned because it was deemed illegal under a county ethics law
that FitzGerald helped establish as Cuyahoga County
executive. Still, Kasich’s campaign has
criticized FitzGerald for the illegal contribution, even though Kasich
isn’t applying the same standard to his own campaign.
The panel reviewing the state’s controversial facial recognition program will actually review the entire web-based, decade-old Ohio Law Enforcement Gateway
for proper protection protocols. Gov. John Kasich and the American
Civil Liberties Union are among two of many who criticized the facial
recognition program for potential breaches of privacy. The facial
recognition program allows police officers and civilian employees to use
a photo to search databases for names and contact information;
previously, law enforcement officials needed a name or address to search
such databases. The program was online for two months without an
independent review of its protocols and before the public was notified
of its existence.
President Barack Obama nominated former Gov. Ted Strickland to be one of five alternative representatives to the United Nations delegation.
People can often remember events early in life better than more recent events, and that might explain why they usually enjoy their parents’ favorite music.
by German Lopez
Medical center blocked from helping uninsured navigate online marketplaces
Limitations imposed by Ohio lawmakers who
oppose the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) have forced Cincinnati
Children’s Hospital Medical Center to give up a $124,419 federal grant
that would have gone toward helping uninsured Ohioans navigate new online
marketplaces for health insurance.
Specifically, the state law, which Gov. John Kasich signed on April 30 and went into effect on July 30, excludes any
organization that receives payments from a health care payer, such as an
insurance company, from being designated as a “navigator.”
The designation is necessary for Cincinnati Children’s
Hospital to receive the federal grant, which is part of national
outreach efforts to enroll as many Americans, especially young adults,
into Obamacare’s online marketplaces when they open for enrollment on Oct. 1.
Without the designation, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital
was forced to give up the federal money, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital
spokesperson Terry Loftus told CityBeat.State legislators passed the restrictions to clarify regulations on navigators that avoid potential abuses and conflicts of interest.
But Obamacare’s supporters claim the state law is part of a
nationwide effort from state and federal Republicans to make Obamacare
more difficult to implement.
The federal government intends to sign up 7 million people
into Obamacare’s online marketplaces, but 2.7 million have to be young adults to keep costs low. Otherwise, older,
less healthy Americans will fill up the marketplaces, exhaust health
services and drive up costs.
Supporters of Obamacare acknowledge that signing up so
many young adults will be difficult, so they’ve taken to national and
state-by-state education campaigns that tell young adults about the
benefits and cost savings made available through the president’s
signature health care law. These campaigns are being headed by various
organizations that have been dubbed “navigators.”
But opponents, particularly Republicans, are preventing some of the efforts by investigating navigators and passing
legislation in state governments that limits what navigators can do and
who can be classified as a navigator.
Most recently, Republicans in the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee sent a letter to groups participating in the navigator program with a series of accusations and questions.
“This is a blatant and shameful attempt to intimidate
groups who will be working to inform Americans about their new health
insurance options and help them enroll in coverage, just like Medicare
counselors have been doing for years,” Erin Shields Britt, spokesperson
for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, told The Hill.
For the uninsured, not knowing about the online marketplaces could mean losing
out on opportunities to obtain health insurance at lower costs. Recent reports have found that Obamacare’s online
marketplaces and tax subsidies will lower costs for Ohioans in the
individual health care market.
An Aug. 29 study from the RAND Corporation,
a reputable think tank, found health care premiums will rise to an
average of $5,312 under Obamacare in 2016. Without the law, premiums
would reach an average of $3,973 that year. But when Obamacare’s tax
credits are plugged in, the average Ohioan will only pay a premium of
$3,131 — $842 less than he or she would pay without the law.
Avik Roy, a conservative health care economist and prominent critic of Obamacare, found even better results for Ohio. His model found premiums will drop by 30 percent in Ohio,
although they’ll rise by 24 percent on average for 13 states, including Ohio, and the District of Columbia as a whole.
Unlike RAND, Roy’s calculations don’t take subsidies into account, so
the final cost for the average Ohioan is likely much lower.The numbers only apply to Ohioans in the individual
health insurance market. Under Obamacare, individuals will be able to
enroll for health insurance through an online marketplace. The majority of Americans who get health insurance through their
employers or public programs fall under different rules and regulations.
It’s unclear how much Republican opposition will
ultimately play into the numbers. But for Cincinnati Children’s
Hospital, it means $124,419 less to help its neediest, less
0 Comments · Wednesday, September 4, 2013
The Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”)
will lead to an increase in Ohio’s raw health care premiums, but the
increase will be more than offset by the law’s tax credits.
0 Comments · Wednesday, September 4, 2013
The federally funded Medicaid expansion
currently being blocked by state Republicans could provide health
insurance to more than 42,000 people living in Hamilton County.
by German Lopez
Charter schools fail, Obamacare lowers costs, Medicaid expansion could help thousands
Ohio charter school have largely failed to live up to their promises, according to The Columbus Dispatch.
Charter schools were originally pursued by Ohio
lawmakers to help find a suitable alternative to the state’s struggling
urban public schools. But in the latest school report cards, charter
schools performed just as poorly as urban public schools. Charter
schools are allowed to run a profit and skip on certain state rules and
regulations, which was supposed to give them some leniency in
implementing successful academic models.
Obamacare will lower average health care costs
in Ohio’s individual market, according to a study from RAND
Corporation, a reputable think tank. Although premiums will rise as a
result of the law, the tax credits offered in Obamacare will be more
than enough to offset the increases. The numbers only apply to the
individual marketplaces; anyone who gets insurance through an employer
or public program falls under different rules and regulation. Still, the
findings are good news for Obamacare as the federal government aims to
insure 7 million people — and 2.7 million young, healthy adults among
those — to make the individual marketplaces work. As part of Obamacare,
states and the federal government will open online enrollment for new,
subsidized individual insurance plans on Oct. 1, and the plans will go
into effect at the start of next year.
The Medicaid expansion could insure more than 42,000 people in Hamilton County,
according to the Ohio Poverty Law Center. As part of Obamacare, states
are asked to expand their Medicaid programs to include anyone at or
below 138 percent of the federal poverty level ($15,856 for a
single-person household). If states accept, the federal government will
pay for the entire expansion for the first three years then phase down
its payments indefinitely to 90 percent of the expansion’s total cost.
Earlier this year, the Health Policy Institute of Ohio released an analysis
that found the Medicaid expansion would insure nearly half a million
Ohioans and save the state about $1.8 billion in the next decade.
Gov. John Kasich says he wants to slow down Attorney General Mike DeWine’s facial recognition program
and work with the Ohio legislature to review if changes are necessary.
Kasich compared the program to federal surveillance programs like the
NSA and FISA, which have come under scrutiny in the past few months
after leaks unveiled broader snooping and data collection of Americans’
private communications than previously expected. The facial recognition
program allows police officers and civilian employees to use a photo to
search databases for names and contact information; previously, law
enforcement officials needed a name or address to search such databases.
The program was criticized by the American Civil Liberties Union
because knowledge of the program’s existence was withheld from the
public for two-plus months and an independent group never reviewed the
program’s privacy-protecting protocols.
Democratic City Council candidate Greg Landsman backed the second phase of the streetcar in a column Friday. The endorsement could be vital to the project’s future because Landsman is widely considered a favorite in this year’s City Council race.
JobsOhio’s leaders plan to launch a public relations offensive
to repair the agency’s image. The privatized
development agency has been criticized for its lack of transparency after media outlets uncovered that it was handing
out tax credits to companies with direct financial ties to JobsOhio
board members. Democrats argue the agency needs more transparency and
checks on its recommendations, while Republicans, who created the agency
to replace the Ohio Department of Development, claim the agency’s
privatized, secretive nature allows it to move more quickly with
job-creating development deals.
The University of Cincinnati was named public university of the year
by The Washington Center. The award recognizes UC for supporting
experiential education through its partnership with The Washington
Center, an independent academic organization that serves hundreds of
colleges and universities by providing internships and other
opportunities in Washington, D.C., for school credit.
Police busted a $1 million shoplifting ring in Ohio that targeted discount retail stores along the Interstate 75 corridor, such as Walmart, Meijer, CVS and Family Dollar.
State law will soon require vaccine immunizations against several diseases for children attending school.
Cincinnati-based Kroger is cutting health care benefits for employees’ spouses on Jan. 1, but the plan will also increase pay, stabilize the company’s pension fund and provide more benefits for part-time employees. Obamacare apparently played a role in the decision to cut spousal benefits, but Kroger says the most influential factor was rising health care costs all around the nation — a trend that has been ongoing for decades.
a visualization of the urban heat island effect, which will make cities
warm up much faster as global warming continues.
Could you survive the end of the universe? io9 tackles the question here.