Report: House Plan Could Undermine Ohio's Medicaid Expansion
Posted April 27, 2015 in Selected Press
A report from Policy Matters Ohio finds a proposal in the Ohio House could make it more difficult for low-income families to obtain and maintain health insurance coverage under Medicaid expansion. Photo credit: Alex E. Proismos/Flickr.
COLUMBUS, Ohio – A new state budget proposal would undermine Ohio's expansion of Medicaid, according to a new report by the research institute and advocacy group Policy Matters Ohio.
The House version of the two-year budget directs the state to pursue a waiver of Medicaid rules to implement a new program design.
Wendy Patton, Policy Matters Ohio’s senior project director, says the changes could jeopardize health coverage for hundreds of thousands of adults and children.
"Charging premiums, suspending payments for a year if people fail to make those payments, setting up accounts run on points and not dollars that are very administratively complex,” she states. “These could act as hurdles, and dampen the successes that Ohio has seen."
Some Republican lawmakers had initially backed a budget amendment that would stop Ohio from spending state tax dollars on Medicaid expansion. Instead, they have introduced what they're calling reforms, saying they'd help control spending and provide better health outcomes.
The $71.5 billion budget passed on a 63-36 vote and will now be considered by the Senate.
An estimated 500,000 Ohioans signed up to receive Medicaid under the expansion. Patton says hospitals and health care providers around the state have since reported improved patient care, through fewer emergency room visits, increased primary care visits and reduced medical costs.
"As they've started serving people that had Medicaid or other insurance under the Affordable Care Act, their bottom lines were getting stronger,” she points out. “This is very important, because hospitals and health care are major employers in our state."
Patton states lawmakers should not change the federal government's Medicaid requirements, which she says are designed to keep people healthy.
"These rules help assure that people actually get care, which is the fundamental goal of the Medicaid program and the coverage that we afford to families,” she stresses. “We've got a good program going, and we think Ohio should stay the course."
Original Article: http://www.publicnewsservice.org/2015-04-27/health...