Monday, June 17, 2013

Ohio Medicaid efforts

A new poll for the Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati from the University of Cincinnati asking respondents whether they favored or opposed expanding Medicaid to provide health insurance to more low-income uninsured adults showed 63.1 percent of adults support such an expansion, while 30 percent are opposed and 6.9 percent didn’t know, according to a article over the weekend.

That article noted “Gov. John Kasich proposed expanding the medical insurance program for the poor to hundreds of thousands of Ohioans in his 2013-14 budget, but his fellow Republicans, who dominate both the Ohio House and Senate, did not include the expansion in their budget plans. Legislators are now considering ways to cut Medicaid costs, possibly expanding coverage at a later date. State health officials say they need six months to set up an expansion, which will be possible on Jan. 1 under the federal Affordable Care Act…. Under the health reform law – 'Obamacare' to many conservatives – the federal government would pay for three years to expand Medicaid to Ohioans who fall within 138 percent of the federal poverty line, or about $32,500 for a family of four.”

An article at quotes a statement by Health Foundation CEO Jim Schwab as saying, "The Health Foundation supports the expansion of Medicaid in Ohio because we believe that it will have a positive impact on the health of uninsured Ohioans who will be newly covered by Medicaid," adding that “"We also believe that expansion of Medicaid will have a positive impact on Ohio’s economy as was validated in an economic impact study that the Foundation helped underwrite earlier this year that found the Medicaid expansion would insure nearly half a million Ohioans and save the state about $1.8 billion in the next decade. The Ohio Health Issues Poll findings show that the majority of Ohioans also support the expansion…"

That scenario has alienated conservative Republicans and the poll reflected that as well. Meanwhile, Ohio has a couple bills seeking to curb the costs of Medicaid introduced last week in both the Senate and House.

“The bill won’t include expanding Medicaid to more Ohioans, and it won’t say whether Ohio will take money from the federal government to do so,” Rep. Ron Amstutz was quoted as saying in a second article last week. “Our goal is to do as much as we can, as soon as we can, to address the rising cost curves of Medicaid ... as well as trying to help individuals who are currently served by Medicaid to move up and off of it. If that happens, we can introduce the discussion of whether we can add new (Medicaid) members to be served. We’ve got to get the cost curve changed enough to feel like we have a stronger consensus.”

For now, General Assembly leaders are seeking to get conservatives’ support, rather than talk about expansion or funding. So leaders have created a bill that will address conservatives’ concerns about Medicaid’s costs and people’s long-term participation in the program,

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