Lots of white people sitting in rows on wooden seats

The “Offense Book of Books” kicks off their publication during three events in January.

Every once in a while something good seemingly falls into your lap. The proponent hearing on HB 440, the Ohio Health Security Act (OHSA) in the House Insurance Committee on December 5 and 12 was pure serendipity.

The OHSA would provide payment for all necessary health care for all Ohio residents for life. It includes inpatient and outpatient hospital care, preventive care, mental health, vision, hearing, prescription drugs, dental, medications and medical devices, emergency services-including transportation, rehabilitation, hospice care, home care and other necessary medical services as determined by any state licensed health care practitioner. It is “Medicare for All for Ohioans.”

Co-sponsors of HB 440 are Ohio House Representatives Teresa Fedor and Bernadine Kennedy Kent.

The hearing came about because there were contacts made by local Single-Payer Action Network Ohio (SPAN Ohio) constituents. While the OHSA has 20 sponsors and cosponsors in the House, they are all Democrats, and none is the Chair of any House committee. The Chair determines what bill gets a hearing, so it was very unexpected when Representative Tom Brinkman, a Republican from Cincinnati, agreed to a hearing when asked by local SPAN Ohio members. The OHSA has been introduced into the House and Senate every session since 2005, but never had a hearing in nearly 14 years.


Eight people testified on December 5, 2018:

Deb Silverstein, SPAN Ohio Director, told of her experience with a hospital that was “in network” but practitioners in the hospital were “out of network.” Mass financial confusion. (There are no networks in the OHSA, so you can have any medical provider.)

Dr. John Ross from Toledo testified about how many patients are harmed by being “underinsured,” i.e. have $3-5K deductibles, in addition to their premium costs and copays. (There are no deductibles or copays in the OHSA). He told how he has to argue with insurance companies, trying to get their OK for the health care needed by his patients. He spends 10 hours per week on the phone with insurers. (In the OHSA doctors follow “best medical practices” with no negotiation needed with the payment system).

Two people spoke by Skype:

The first was Gerald Friedman, professor of Economics, University of Massachusetts. He described the financial analysis of the OHSA, which was commissioned by SPAN Ohio. (See the Economic Impact Study at for details). Friedman said that while everyone in Ohio would be included, there would be a savings of $39B from what Ohioans are spending now, about $139B. The state of Ohio would need to raise $40B of the $100B needed for health care under HB440. The remaining $60B already comes to Ohio through federal health programs. (The study includes suggestions on how the bill could be funded, indicating that 97 percent of Ohioans would spend less on health care).

David Steil, businessman and former 16-year Republican member of the Pennsylvania (PA) legislature, spoke of similar legislation that he helped write. He said the Pennsylvania bill would help business, creating a “competitive advantage” for businesses by spending less on health care. At the end of Steil’s testimony, a committee member asked, “If this is such a good bill, why didn’t you get it passed in Pennsylvania?” Steil answered that Pennsylvania had a Republican legislature which needed more education on the value of this bill.

Brinkman called an end to the hearing at about noon, but said, “Since there more people to testify, we will resume this hearing next Wednesday at 10am.”

Ten people spoke on Wednesday, December 12. They shared serious issues about health insurance affordability; the lack of an insurance plan in their county which included their local hospital as a provider; a 41 percent cost increase in one year for a small business health insurance; and one noted that we should be appalled at the existence of free clinics, because no country which provides health care for all their citizens, has a need to open a “free clinic.”

At the end of the testimony, Chairman Brinkman said he appreciated the testimony. He admitted that because the term was near the end, the HB 440 would have to be reintroduced again next year.

After the hearing, Deb Silverstein spoke with Chairman Brinkman. She wrote later: “Representative Brinkman told me that we should have passed single payer health care 12 years ago. He said he and Jon Husted tried to get it passed, but things got in the way, like the Affordable Care Act (ACA). He stated that he was very impressed with Jerry Friedman’s testimony and that his knowledge of Ohio and the points he made make total sense.”

Bob Krasen is a SPAN Ohio Columbus Area Coordinator. Become a member of SPAN OHIO at, get involved by talking and writing to your legislators demanding that the Ohio Health Security Act be passed and signed into law.

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