Medicaid in Ohio. To expand or not to expand. That is the question. Governor John Kasich and the Health Policy Institute of Ohio believe the economic benefits derived from expansion far outweigh the risk of federal government funding drying up in the future.
By enlarging the number of Medicaid recipients, it’s anticipated that more than 250,000 residents of the state that make about $15,000 per year (or less) would qualify. Otherwise, these individuals and families would have to try to pay their healthcare benefits themselves, which may be an impossible task. And if they are able to purchase a policy, although preventative benefits would be fully covered, high deductibles would result in potential large out-of-pocket expenses.
Also, more than 40,000 veterans (and family members) would be positively impacted, and more dollars could be utilized for suicide issues, which often plague veterans. Mental healthcare, drug-testing and drug-addiction services are also benefits that would aid many low-income individuals and families. And often, trips to physicians and specialists are quite often.
Senate Bill 17 was recently submitted by Democratic Senator Shirley Smith (Cleveland) that echos Governor Kasich‘s ideas that passage will create many new jobs along with increasing revenue in the Buckeye state. The Governor has mentioned in past interviews that he considers this legislation “personal” and it must be passed.
The critical issue is quite simply the level and amount of funding that will reach the program. The first three years are completely paid by the federal government. Then it gets tricky. After that, each year, Ohio residents will have to pay for the expansion since the share the state pays increases by 10% until 2020.
Ohio Receives Financial Assistance…For Now
Overall, Ohio would receive more than $12 billion (not million!) in financial assistance. But what happens if there is a shortfall of a few billion dollars? Raising taxes may be the only way to recover the money, which could wipe out many, or all of the gains to be made. And there is no guarantee that the federal government won’t alter the conditions, and substantially reduce their contribution in later years.
The House of Representatives removed it from the budget and it is not expected to return. But an alternative might be possible, that will not interfere with the budget. It’s a bipartisan idea that all lawmakers from the House and Senate will consider in about four months. There also may be some legislation offered before the end of June. But whatever is decided, it will have to be in place by the first of the year when State Open Enrollments begin.
September 2013 – A new Medicaid website has been created (benefits.ohio.gov) that will assist consumers in determining if they are eligible for benefits. Although the criteria for qualifying has not changed, the new website will be more accurate in determining who meets the necessary criteria to be accepted.
October is the launch date and there may be some synchronization with the Federal Exchange website for persons with higher incomes. Since 20% of Ohio’s residents are considered “low-income,” the new site could potentially help millions of persons. And as an added bonus, personal visits to local offices may no longer be needed.
February 2016 – Federal funding was indeed accepted and Ohio expanded Medicaid in 2014. The federal funding is still flowing and more than 400,000 persons now enjoy coverage, that otherwise may not have had any medical benefits. Last year, it was also reported that the actual Medicaid spending was about $171 million less than expected. Eligible persons can apply online here.