Thursday, May 29, 2014

Higher premiums coming to Ohioans using Obamacare federal exchange

The Ohio Department of Insurance is reporting that Ohioans who purchase health care through the federal exchange will see premium increases in 2015.

Individuals can expect a 13 percent increase and small businesses can expect an 11 percent increase for health plans sold on the exchanges under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) also known as Obamacare.

The average premium from the 16 companies who filed to sell plans in the individual market is $374.42 per month compared to $332.58 per month for the same coverage in 2014.

In the small group market, 8 companies filing to sell plans proposed average premiums of $446.78 compared to $401.99 in 2014.

“It’s bad news, no doubt, but it’s what we expected and it’s what the research we did in advance predicted would happen. Ohio has traditionally had a very competitive insurance market which meant our rates were lower than a lot of other states. That means that Obamacare is hitting us harder and driving our costs up significantly,” Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor said in a press release. “Higher premiums will continue to put a strain on consumers and small businesses at a time when our state’s economy is showing strong signs of recovery and growth. Continued and unnecessary headwinds out of Washington are making it more difficult for job creators, hard-working Ohioans and their families to purchase health insurance.”

In 2010, the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) became law. It included the creation of health care exchanges in which individuals and small business owners in every state can purchase qualified coverage. The federal government launched open enrollment in October 2013.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Cleveland makes list for site visits for RNC Convention

Yep, Cleveland made the finalist list for the Republican National Committee Convention and will receive a site visit to evaluate the city and facilities. They are one of four finalists, in the running with Dalls, Denver and Kansas City.

Here is the press release from the RNC:

RNC Selects Cities for 2016 Official Site Visits

WASHINGTON – Today, the Republican National Committee’s (RNC) Site Selection Committee for the 2016 Republican National Convention, met via conference call, selecting Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, and Kansas City to receive official site visits from the RNC’s 2016 site selection delegation. The official site visits represent the next phase in the site selection process and will allow key RNC officials and the full Site Selection Committee to tour cities and venues vying to host the 2016 Republican National Convention. The committee’s decision was based on an extensive review of bids, presentations, and reports compiled from technical visits to each city.

Prior to the site selection committee vote, Cincinnati respectfully withdrew their bid from the process based upon the criteria set forth by the RNC for the main arena. Las Vegas also respectfully withdrew their 2016 bid based on the RNC’s criteria for a traditional arena facility and enough on-site preparatory time to accommodate the 2016 convention.

After receiving notification from Cincinnati and Las Vegas, the committee conducted votes on the remaining cities and determined each would receive a visit.

Timing and dates for official visits will be coordinated with Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, and Kansas City and an announcement will be forthcoming with more details for each visit.

Following today’s meeting of the Site Selection Committee, Chairwoman Enid Mickelsen issued the following statement:

“Today the committee determined that Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, and Kansas City will receive official visits from the full RNC site selection delegation. All cities excelled in nearly every aspect of their bids and presentation this year, but these four cities stood out from the field from the start of this process and deserve a deeper look by the full committee.

“Prior to the committee’s vote, Cincinnati and Las Vegas notified the RNC that they would no longer pursue their bid to host the 2016 convention. While the committee understands their decision, both cities made a compelling case for 2016 and would make excellent hosts should they pursue efforts to host a future RNC convention.

“I applaud the effort and commitment shown by all cities involved, and I thank all parties for their dedication to this endeavor. The 2016 convention will provide a unique opportunity to showcase our Party as well as the host city itself, and I’m confident we will choose the best possible setting to nominate our next Republican president.”


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Lucas County sees lower unemployment rate, but what's the rest of the story?

The headlines read:

"Lucas County unemployment rate dropping"

"April’s jobless rates at lowest in over 10 years"

Yes, the unemployment rate in the county dropped to 5.7 percent, but that's not the lowest it's been and the drop really isn't due to people finding jobs.

The county is facing the same issue as the state, as I wrote at Ohio Watchdog. The statistic is easily manipulated by changing the number in the workforce.

As a commissioner, I rarely looked at the unemployment rate. Instead, I tracked employment - the number of people actually working - as I thought it a much better gauge of the health of the economy.

The last time Lucas County saw an unemployment rate this low was October 2006 when the rate was 5.4 percent. It was 5.6 percent in September and November that year.

But here's the catch: the number of people employed in October 2006 was 214,400.

The number of people with jobs in April 2014 was 192,400 - 22,000 less!

The loss of people in the workforce is even greater. In October 2006, there were 226,700 people counted. But in April 2014, there were only 204,100. That's a difference of 22,600.

To put that in perspective, that's more people than live in the cities of Maumee (pop. 14,129) or Oregon (pop. 20,291) or Sylvania (pop. 18,892).

So even though the unemployment is down, it's not because there are more people employed - it's because we have 22,600 who aren't being counted in the workforce. And the number of people with jobs is actually less.

Here's a chart showing the declining workforce and the historical employment numbers from January 2006 to April 2014:

As you can see, the number of people in the workforce has steadily declined, even as the number of employed fluctuates up and down, though still not reaching pre-recession numbers.

Certainly, loss of population, retiring baby boomers and others who are no longer counted in the workforce contribute to the declining numbers - but they cannot account for all of the drop. At least some of the loss of workforce is due to individuals who are no longer seeking work because they don't believe there are any opportunities for them.

The key is to understand how much of the loss of workforce is due to what factor.

So rather than celebrate or tout the declining unemployment rate, elected officials, policy makers and citizens should insist on good analysis to find out why the number of employed people has not returned to historic levels. This is a critical factor as the cities make long-term decisions about taxation and services.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Panel dismisses election complaint over Stainbrook, Gallagher flyer

The Ohio Election Commission dismissed a complaint from Ohio Citizens PAC that charged the Ohio Republican Party with making a false statement on flyers supporting Jon Stainbrook and Meghan Gallager (and others) for state central committee.

The flyers said that elected the two would "stop Obamacare." Ohio Citizen PAC said that was false. The dismissal came from the OEC's probable cause panel.

In filing the complaint, Tom Zawistowski, president of the PAC, said the statement was "clearly an intentional attempt to mislead voters by make a false claim of some legislative authority being held by Republican State Central Committee members, which simply does not exist."

OEC Executive Director Phil Richter recommended the dismissal as not rising to the level of a false statement, Gongwer reported. The panel agreed that there was no probable cause to believe the statement would be found to be false and dismissed the case.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Elections complaint filed over Stainbrook and Gallagher flyers

Ohio Citizens PAC filed a complaint against the Ohio Republican Party for the state central committee campaign flyers it sent out on behalf of Jon Stainbrook and Meghan Gallagher.

Here is the flyer I received, which is the same one in the complaint:

The complaint alleges that the claim of being able to stop Obamacare is patently false and intended to mislead voters.

Stainbrook and Gallagher weren't the only ones. The ORP sent the same flyer in other districts as well.

The complaint asks for a hearing prior to the May 6 election date which is when the central committees of the state and local parties will be elected.

Here is the press release:

Ohio Citizens PAC files Complaint with Ohio Election Commission against Ohio Republican Party Flyers

Akron, OH – Today, the Ohio Citizens PAC filed a complaint with the Ohio Elections Commission concerning the mailers produced and sent out by the Ohio Republican Party claiming that endorsed Republican State Central Committee candidates can “Vote Republican’s Stainbrook and Gallagher to Stop Obmacare.” A statement that the Ohio Citizens PAC says is patently false and is intended to mislead voters. Multiple versions of the mailer were sent out around the state with the names of the endorsed State Central Committee candidates changed to match the district.

Tom Zawistowski, President of the Ohio Citizens PAC, said “This type of unethical behavior by ORP Chairman Matt Borges and others within the Ohio Republican Party has got to stop. The statements on these mailers are clearly an intentional attempt to misleads voters by making a false claim of some legislative authority being held by Republican State Central Committee members which simply does not exist. Not only are their actions unethical, they are insulting to the educated Republican party base who will vote in Tuesday’s primary election. We are asking the Ohio Elections Commission to hold a hearing on this issue before the election and to force the Ohio Republican Party to take action to inform voters of the truth.”

Zawistowski concluded by saying, “Unfortunately, this incident is a part of a pattern of unethical behavior that resonates from the ORP Chairman right through to the local level. The people endorsed by the Ohio Citizens PAC for State Central Committe who are listed on our website at are running for two simple reasons. First, they have all pledged to vote, if elected, for the Ohio Republican Party to adopt the National Republican Party Platform, because the ORP currently has no platform of its own. Second, to hold Republican elected officials accountable to the values and principles within the National Republican Party Platform, which is why the ORP currently does not have a platform because they do not want Republican elected official to be held accountable to anything. Sending out this flyer shows the desperation of the ORP leadership to keep control of the state central committee and that they will do anything to keep their power – including lying to voters. We are hopeful that primary votes will see the truth and vote in our candidates to restore the Ohio Republican Party to Republican values and principles.”

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