Vitally important public policy decisions should be based on data, analysis, and metrics, not emotion. My colleagues and I crafted this bill with the best information at our disposal, some of which we drew from other states’ success. To ensure that quality healthcare for everyone remains within reach, we must reform the system so costs only rise with normal inflation, rather than with medical inflation. If the costs of services rise faster than inflation, eventually they will become unaffordable for everyone, starting with families and individuals with the tightest budgets.
To be clear, House Bill 157 does nothing to diminish Medicaid Expansion under the Affordable Care Act. Final decisions on that topic do not need to be made by the General Assembly until the end of 2016 because states start paying for a portion of the Expansion in 2017. However, I do not believe Medicaid Expansion, or the ACA as whole, was a good idea because it simply spends more money to cover people within our currently flawed system, without any serious additional reforms to ensure the system’s affordability and sustainability.
The specific details of House Bill 157 are too numerous to fully describe here, but a video detailing its provisions can be seen online at
In broad terms, the bill:
1. Empowers Medicaid recipients with Healthcare Savings Accounts, promotes independence, and provides incentives for healthy outcomes;
2. Reduces the practice of providers ordering unnecessary, and potentially harmful, tests and pills out of fear of getting sued;
3. Reduces preventable medical errors, estimated to be up to the third leading cause of death in the U.S.;
4. Offers price transparency at points of service so people become more cost conscious when comparing and shopping for medical services;
5. Incentivizes hospitals and Medicaid insurance companies to compete to provide the best health outcomes at the best price, and encourages the dedication of resources to care for patients instead of to improving non-essential infrastructure;
6. Lowers the price for pharmaceuticals and medical equipment by pooling our state’s population to increase Ohio’s purchasing power; and
7. Helps small businesses avoid unnecessary, expensive mandates so they can offer health insurance to their own employees.
By reducing wasteful spending in Medicaid and encouraging healthy outcomes for Ohio’s population as a whole, the potential savings from this legislation could be in the billions. House Bill 157 redirects some of the resulting savings in Medicaid spending to offer care to groups that remain underserved, such as veterans, the mentally ill, developmentally disabled, drug addicted and the working poor. Further savings that result from enacting this legislation can be used to help fund public education and other services, or the money can be returned to taxpayers.
Benjamin Franklin said, “The best public measures are seldom adopted from previous wisdom, but forced by the occasion.” The occasion, in this case, is unsustainable healthcare spending, poor health outcomes and low access to care. We cannot ignore the ever-increasing cost of healthcare in our state — not when data shows a 57 percent increase in Medicaid costs in only six years. For the preservation of all vital state services, the wisest course of action is to begin the work of reforming our healthcare system immediately.
Jim Butler (R-Oakwood) represents District 41 in the Ohio House of Representatives.