While many have been focused on the Federal health legislation, it is equally important to watch our state policies. The current Ohio budget will have a dramatic impact on the health of Ohioans.
The budget contains significant changes to Medicaid, in particular the Medicaid expansion program. Despite well-studied data showing that the Medicaid expansion had positive effects on health, finances, and people’s ability to seek and gain employment, the legislature is seeking to make notable changes that will block people from eligibility.
The Ohio senate added a ‘freeze’ on enrollment in the Medicaid expansion program that would block anyone from signing up in the future. Since many people on Medicaid have seasonal or varying income, the Kasich administration estimates that 70% of enrollees would lose eligibility in 18 months as a result. In addition, the Ohio House added language that would prevent the newly unemployed, people looking for work, and people on a waiting list for addiction treatment from being included in Medicaid. Finally, there is an added provision requiring a $20 monthly premium for Medicaid recipients in the expansion population. Monthly premium programs such as the one in Indiana enacted to promote ‘personal responsibility’ have been controversial and have not shown convincing evidence of effectiveness, while adding administrative complexity to create a system of collection and monitoring to ensure compliance. In Ohio, estimates are that 15% of the expansion population — more than 100,000 Ohioans — could lose coverage as a result of this premium.
As a doctor and a mom, I understand Medicaid can mean the difference between life and death for some Ohio families. The current state budget could take Medicaid away from as many as a half million working people, seniors, people with disabilities, and those striving to recover from addiction.
I urge Governor Kasich to use his veto authority to preserve Medicaid for Ohioans. This is too important for partisan politics. When you save Medicaid, you save lives.
Please call Governor Kasich and urge him to do the same.