New Medicaid restrictions threaten health care for 315,000 Ohioans
Posted March 15, 2019 in Press Releases
Federal approval of work requirement waiver will reverse progress
Federal approval today of the Ohio Department of Medicaid’s request to waive standard Medicaid rules and allow the state to impose rigid work requirements threatens health insurance coverage for hundreds of thousands of Ohioans covered under the Medicaid expansion.
“This policy will erode the Medicaid expansion, hurting low-wage and seasonal workers in construction, retail, food service and hospitality,” said Wendy Patton, Senior Project Director for Policy Matters Ohio. “Research shows that additional reporting or administrative burdens create barriers to eligible people retaining coverage. Many working and even disabled people who are supposed to be exempted will lose coverage because of reporting requirements.”
Low-wage jobs in Ohio’s largest occupational categories do not reliably give workers the 80 hours per month that the new eligibility requirement would impose, while irregular schedules often prevent workers from holding multiple jobs. Almost half (46 percent) of low-wage workers enrolled in Medicaid could lose coverage one or more months a year, which is particularly dangerous for people with chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease, depression and addiction.
Only one state has actually implemented this policy. In Arkansas, which has about a quarter of the population of Ohio, 18,000 people lost coverage in the first seven months of the policy.
Administering the new eligibility criteria will cost Ohio’s 88 counties an estimated at $378 million over the waiver period, yet the state has not appropriated funds for administration. Hospitals anticipate waves of disenrollment, higher administrative costs and disruption of care. Federal funds that Medicaid expansion draws into Ohio create 54,000 jobs; loss of federal Medicaid expansion funds with decline in enrollment would hurt this employment.
“This new administratively burdensome requirement will limit access to care, which is counter to the very purpose of Medicaid,” Patton said. “The state budget should include language to eliminate the work requirement.”