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Ohio Single Payer Program

WHEREAS every person residing or employed in Ohio, without regard to sex, age, race, income, place of residence, place of employment, or any other circumstance, is entitled as a matter of right to quality health care, the same as any other person; and

WHEREAS there is a growing crisis in health care in the State of Ohio, manifested among other ways by massive layoffs, steep increases in premiums, copayments and deductibles, a steady increase in the number of persons without health insurance, and the closing of many health care facilities, especially those serving low-income segments of the population; and

WHEREAS insured persons now commonly experience unacceptable, sometimes life-threatening delays in obtaining approval for needed health care services by private, for-profit health insurers; and

WHEREAS the complexity and redundant bureaucracy arising from the existence of multiple, for-profit insurance plans, each with its own distinct program of coverage and benefits, its own costly administrative and executive structure, and its own system of processing managed care approvals, payments of benefits and/or reimbursements, etc., wastes up to 30% of premiums paid for medical coverage by Ohio employers and private citizens, resources which otherwise could be used to provide benefits; and

WHEREAS the administrative burden to health care providers in complying with the bureaucratic requirements of dealing with a multitude of insurers and plan provisions distracts physicians, hospitals and other health care providers from their central mission to provide quality health care for the people of Ohio; and

WHEREAS the added costs of care and insurance premiums created by these inefficiencies and structures are a drain on the financial resources of the taxpayers of Ohio, on those Ohio businesses currently providing their employees with health care benefits, and on every level of government throughout the State; and

WHEREAS Ohioans and Ohio businesses are burdened by unchecked increases in the costs of insurance premiums, prescription drug costs and medical costs in general, imposing ever greater hardships on Ohio residents and employers and driving many businesses and individuals to reduce or eliminate medical coverage or benefits; and

WHEREAS tens of thousands of Ohioans, including the elderly, children, the unemployed, the poor and those whose employers do not provide health insurance benefits, are forced to do without necessary medical care or to pay beyond their means, leading to over 40% of personal bankruptcies; and

WHEREAS a single-payer, publicly-funded, not-for-profit health plan will eliminate the redundant bureaucracy caused by a multiplicity of insurers, greatly reduce administrative costs associated with providing medical care, free up additional financial resources to provide improved medical care for all Ohio residents, allow physicians, hospitals and other medical providers to put all of their efforts into providing quality care, and reduce the cost of health care coverage for Ohio residents and employers; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED:

i. That the Ohio General Assembly commit to enact, without delay, "Ohio Care" -- a comprehensive, publicly funded, not-for-profit health insurance program covering: (a) all residents of the State of Ohio as well as all dependents of Ohio residents, whether residing within the State or elsewhere, and (b) all persons employed in the State, regardless of residence within or outside the State, as well as their dependents;

ii. That upon its effective date, Ohio Care will provide health insurance to all persons employed in the State and their dependents by or through their non-federal public and private employers, including all health insurance previously provided by the State government to its employees, and thereby will relieve Ohio employers of the cost and administrative burden of providing health insurance coverage;

iii. That Ohio Care will provide to every person covered by it one uniform program of health insurance benefits, the same as provided to every other covered person, including prescription drug coverage, dental care, vision care, long-term care, and coverage for mental illnesses on full parity with coverages for all other types of illnesses;

iv. That an Ohio Care Commission will be created, as an independent agency of State government, to implement and administer the Ohio Care program, with the composition of the Commission and the method by which its members are selected to be determined by implementing legislation;

v. That a health insurance benefit provided by the Ohio Care benefit program to a person covered by the program may in any given instance exceed, but not be inferior in scope or amount to, the benefit to which an otherwise similarly situated person would be entitled if that person were a federal government employee;

vi. That the Ohio Care benefit program will be designed and maintained so as to guarantee health care services of excellent quality, timely delivered and accessible to all; full support for ongoing medical research, medical education and training; full choice of providers; and access to comprehensive, preventive and long-term care;

vii. All federal funds allocated for health care purposes by Medicare, Medicaid, Veterans Administration, and other programs will be paid to Ohio Care, after obtaining the necessary waivers from the federal government;

viii. That any person who while covered by Ohio Care requires health care services anywhere in the world will be entitled to Ohio Care benefits to pay for such services to the extent payment has not otherwise been provided; and the Ohio Care Commission may enter into reciprocal arrangements with other jurisdictions to meet the health care needs of persons while traveling;

ix. That any Ohio resident displaced from employment by the private health insurance industry in this state as a direct result of the enactment of Ohio Care will be eligible to receive, at state expense, retraining and temporary financial assistance to facilitate reemployment without significant loss of income, and will receive preference for hiring for employment by the Ohio Care Commission in any position for which the displaced resident is qualified; and

x. That Ohio Care will be funded by utilizing federal, state and local monies that currently are used to fund existing Ohio health care programs, savings realized by eliminating administrative waste and profits of the current health care system, and any additional funding mechanism deemed necessary to ensure that Ohio Care is fully funded, with adequate reserves.

[Submitted by the Single-Payer Action Network Ohio (SPAN Ohio) on November 19, 2001. For copies write us c/o GCIU Local 546M, 3227 West 25 Street, Cleveland, OH 44109 or call 216-368-2631.]