March 28, 2013
The proposal to embrace Medicaid expansion makes health of Ohioans the big winner in this budget. The American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “The first wealth is health.” Medicaid expansion represents a major investment in the health – and thus better opportunity for a productive life – for hundreds of thousands of Ohioans. The expansion also brings billions of federal taxpayer dollars into the state, which will create jobs and boost local economies in every one of the state’s 88 counties. Most importantly, it provides all Ohioans with access to preventative care, which will stem the rising costs in the system by curtailing health crisis and emergency room treatment. According to the Governor’s Office of Health Transformation, benefits include:
- An additional 275,000 low-income Ohioans will be brought into the medical system and gain access to a doctor and preventive care;
- Medicaid expansion will bring $2.4 billion into the state over the biennium, $13 billion over seven years;
- The expansion will cover health services now paid for locally, freeing up $100 million in local levy dollars, which were badly eroded from loss of state tax reimbursements.
- The state will benefit from cost savings as a result of the expansion – $404 million will be freed up for other uses.
In addition to the benefits outlined above, a study by the Ohio State University, the Urban Institute, and REMI, Inc., predict additional positive impacts of Medicaid expansion, including 27,000 jobs and $1.4 billion in enhanced state revenues over nine years.
A choice to not expand could have negative consequences. At present, the federal government provides hundreds of millions of dollars each year to help hospitals take care of people who come to the emergency room but have no insurance. Medicaid expansion will help prevent this by giving people access to preventative care in a doctor’s office, and will make sure that everyone treated in an emergency room is insured privately or through Medicaid. The need for emergency care will be reduced and payments brought under control. For states that do not expand, people will continue to need emergency room crisis care, but the federal dollars cushioning coverage of the uninsured will be greatly reduced as the rest of the country gets with the health reform program. Hospitals in those states could suffer great fiscal stress. The system of care could be reduced, especially in low-income communities.Other sections: Executive summary Introduction Expenditures Other health and human services K-12 education Higher education Local government Tax policy Conclusion