OH health industry fighting state over medical price transparency law

January 11, 2017

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – A new Ohio law would require hospitals and doctor’s offices to be more transparent about what it costs to treat you. It’s supposed to go into effect in January, but it’s being blocked by the Ohio health care industry.

This law would require hospitals and other health care providers to give you a good faith estimate on what you would end up paying so you are not blindsided by bills. But the healthcare industry has filed a lawsuit to stop it.

Sen. Sherrod Brown weighs in on Healthy Ohio Plan

April 20, 2016

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown on Wednesday sharply criticized a plan to require Medicaid recipients to help pay for their care, calling it a cynical political play that would throw people off their insurance and increase costs for all Ohioans.

In a conference call with reporters, Brown said the proposal – dubbed the "Healthy Ohio" program – will actually undercut health care for hundreds of thousands of people if it is approved by federal regulators.

"This is politics at its worst," Brown said. "Think about it – the Healthy Ohio program. How cynical is that? It would make it harder for Ohioans to afford and access care."

The Democratic senator's broadside on the proposal comes a day before the state holds its first public hearing on the plan in Columbus. The proposal would require all non-disabled adults with income to make a monthly payment into a health savings account to help pay for the cost of their care. Failure to make the payment would result in a loss of coverage.

Public debate opens on proposal to make Ohio Medicaid recipients pay for care

April 15, 2016

Supporters said the program is designed to get enrollees to budget their health care dollars and more directly participate in the costs and consequences of medical decision making. One of its architects, State Rep. Jim Butler, a Republican from Oakwood, said the changes would improve health outcomes by encouraging the use of primary and preventive care.

"These incentives will result in patients being healthier and utilizing the health care system in a better way," Butler said. "The incentives also produce healthier outcomes, and healthier outcomes are going to mean a more sustainable program in the long run."

Health care: Law calls for transparency on out-of-pocket costs for patients

February 27, 2016

It's common for Ohioans to have no idea of what they will owe out-of-pocket for a surgery or other medical procedure, even as they're about to go into an MRI or under the knife.

Ohio legislators want that to change. Starting as early as next January, a patient might receive, upon request, a "good-faith and reasonable" estimate of the procedure's total cost; how much private or government-sponsored insurance would pay for the procedure; and the patient's personal share of the bill.

It would represent one of Ohio's broadest and most meaningful advances in health-care-cost transparency in several years.

Lawmaker wants to use rainy day fund to pay off debt to feds

February 18, 2016

A Republican lawmaker hopes to avoid additional tax hikes on businesses by paying off Ohio's lingering unemployment compensation debt to the federal government.

Rep. Jim Butler, R-Oakwood, introduced a bill that would tap Ohio's $2 billion rainy day fund to eliminate the $773 million remaining on the recession-era loan.

“Just as it makes no sense to have a huge savings account while simultaneously paying a lot of interest on a credit card balance you could easily pay off, it makes no sense for us to fail to eliminate the federal penalty payments seriously beginning to cripple our businesses when we have the means to do so, especially when it does not cost the taxpayers,” Butler said.

Drug Dealers Face Charges In Overdose Cases

September 21, 2015

The number of Ohioans dying from fatal heroin overdoses has quadrupled since 2008. While addicts have more paths to treatment, state leaders and local prosecutors have begun to go after the epidemic’s source:  the drug dealers. Dealers could face lengthy prison terms. But there are legal questions.

Steps taken to solve medical bill mysteries

September 14, 2015

Buried in the mega state budget bill, which was approved earlier this year by Ohio lawmakers, was a provision that will drastically change the way Ohio consumers will receive medical pricing information, said state Rep. Jim Butler (R., Dayton).

Mr. Butler and other lawmakers, including Rep. Robert Sprague (R., Findlay), had crafted several proposals that would make it easier for consumers to get the true out-of-pocket cost of procedures and better information about the quality of care provided by doctors and hospitals before hand, not after the service was already rendered. The group was able to get two of their proposals included in the budget bill.

A New Approach to Healthcare in Ohio

April 23, 2015

There has been much ongoing political debate within Ohio about how to adequately fund education, roads and bridges, police and fire, and local government. Missing from this debate, however, is the reason these services are under threat. Medicaid spending is increasingly “crowding-out” all other spending in the state budget. Since 1976, Medicaid spending has gone from 15% of the state budget to 29% today (counting federal transfer dollars, Medicaid spending is over 50% of the budget). During the same time, state spending on education has dropped from 61% to 51%. Since 2011, Ohio tax dollars spent on Medicaid have increased from $4.7 billion to an estimated $7.4 billion in 2017, an increase of over 57%. This massive spending increase comes not just from more people enrolling in the program Medicaid spending per person vaulted from below $6,500 in 2011 to a projected $8,500 in 2017.

We have consistently poured money into an ever-expanding medical-industrial complex with a woeful return on taxpayer investment. Unfortunately, most policymakers have failed to analyze the unique nature of our healthcare system to understand the root causes of poor care and waste. Instead, over the past several decades, desperate calls to rein in Medicaid spending have resulted in simple, but relentless, cuts to provider reimbursements that are so low now that few providers accept Medicaid patients and, if they do, they dramatically limit the number. Increasingly, Medicaid patients are forced to seek care at expensive hospital emergency departments.

Diagnosing what is wrong with our healthcare system is only the first step the next, much more important step, is to deliver the most likely cure. I could not agree more with Governor John Kasich when he recently said, “OK, if you don’t like it, bring us an alternative ... bring something else, just don’t throw rocks through the windows.”

With assistance and support from many of my colleagues in the House of Representatives, I have sought to answer the governor’s call and offer an alternative to our current approach in healthcare. Accordingly, I recently introduced House Bill 157, a comprehensive healthcare reform bill that will improve the quality of medical care, reduce wasteful spending in Medicaid and in the overall healthcare system, and provide access to quality healthcare for vulnerable populations. In developing the bill, we began with the premise that we must understand healthcare economics before we can develop a system that encourages the best care and healthiest outcomes a system with the right incentives for patients and providers alike.

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% 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. 

Proposal Boosts Penalty For Causing Overdose Deaths

September 7, 2014

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is supporting a bill that would boost criminal penalties for drug dealers found guilty of contributing to overdose deaths.

The proposal by State Rep. Jim Butler, a Republican from Oakwood in suburban Dayton, would expand the definition of murder to include defendants who play a role in an overdose death through drug trafficking.

The legislation calls for life in prison with parole after 25 years if the victim is an adult and 30 years if the victim is a juvenile.

DeWine says the bill would provide a much-needed criminal deterrent and make drug dealers accountable for their role in overdose deaths.

The state has struggled for several years to deal with an opiate addiction crisis, starting with prescription painkillers and then heroin.

Butler supports House Bill 198

May 22, 2014

COLUMBUS — The Ohio House of Representatives passed House Bill 198, jointly sponsored by State Representatives Tony Burkley (R-Payne) and Jim Butler (R-Oakwood), legislation that changes how local infrastructure projects are funded by providing property owners with the option of not having their property included as part of a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) incentive district.

Tax Increment Financing allows local governments to sell bonds, borrowing against increased property tax revenues in the future in order to fund an infrastructure project that will attract a business or enable the building of new facilities.

Dewine urged to sue over federal detention law

January 17, 2014

A resolution passed unanimously out of an Ohio House committee this week pressures the state attorney general to file a lawsuit over a section in a federal law that has already been upheld in court.

House Resolution 41, sponsored by two Republicans, Rep. Jim Butler, from near Dayton, and Rep. Ron Young, from northeast of Cleveland, asks the Ohio legislature to condemn Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act of fiscal year 2012.