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Group warns health care costs could increase dramatically for some Ohioans soon

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Democrats and advocates for Ohioans who receive subsidies for health care are urging Congress to pass a bill known as the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. And they said without that plan, Ohioans could see steep increases in their health care costs.

Rep. Latyna Humphrey (D-Columbus) said 260,000 Ohioans signed up for health care plans in the federal health care marketplace in 2022 and 79% of them received subsidies to make that coverage more affordable. She said those subsidies are on the line now.

“Without Congressional action, the health care tax credits will expire at the end of 2022. And premiums for next year’s plans will rise dramatically for millions who buy insurance on their own,” Humphrey said.

Humphrey says a 60-year-old couple earning $75,000 a year could see a jump of $1000 in their monthly payments, making coverage unaffordable.

Desiree Tims, president and CEO of Innovation Ohio, said the increase in health care costs comes at a time when many Ohioans are already strapped for cash to make ends meet.

“We can all agree that no one should have to choose between paying for their health care, their insulin, paying rent, and groceries,” Tims said.

The Universal Health Care Access Network of Ohio has long lobbied for the government to allow all Ohioans to be covered with care. Steven Wagner, UHCAN Ohio executive director, said a key part of the Inflation Reduction Act would allow Medicare to negotiate prices for prescription drugs. He said right now, Americans pay two to three times more for their prescriptions than people in other countries, in part, because Medicare doesn't negotiate drug prices. He said this bill will allow that as well as other cost-cutting measures.

“In addition to giving Medicare the ability to negotiate, the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 has additional provisions that will help decrease costs for consumers. Among other measures, for example, it will cap the out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs to $2,000 per year," Wagner said.

A recent report from the advocacy group, Protect Our Care, lays out what the consequences could be if Congress fails to make the credits permanent — including that more than 3 million people, including 63,000 Ohioans, could lose their coverage.

Ohio's U.S. Senator Rob Portman, a Republican, has voiced his opposition to the plan. Portman said the $739 billion plan makes "no economic sense" and that its 15% alternative minimum tax on corporations earning more than $1 billion will have businesses making management decisions to avoid taxation.

“Which is bad for the economy, bad for economic growth, and precisely not what we should not be doing right now in a time of stagflation," said Portman.

U.S. Senate leaders have said they plan to take up a vote on the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 by the end of this week.

Contact Jo Ingles at jingles@statehousenews.org.
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