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Medicaid's Future Still Uncertain in Ohio

Nearly 725,000 previously uninsured Ohioans were able to access health care under Medicaid expansion. (Pixabay)
Nearly 725,000 previously uninsured Ohioans were able to access health care under Medicaid expansion. (Pixabay)
July 17, 2017

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- While Gov. John Kasich recently protected Medicaid by vetoing a proposed freeze of the expansion, the future of the program still faces uncertainty at the federal level.

Republicans in the Senate unveiled a revised version of their health care plan last week. It would cut the program by more than $700 billion and end Medicaid expansion by 2024. Wendy Patton, senior project director with Policy Matters Ohio, explained that the program also would be restructured, with the federal government no longer matching state funding.

"Instead, the federal plan would cap the Medicaid program and reduce that cap,” Patton explained. "The cap would not meet the growth in need, particularly of an aging population."

Currently, the federal government pays about two-thirds of every dollar Ohio spends on Medicaid. Since the state expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, nearly 725,000 previously uninsured Ohioans have access to health care.

The Senate bill includes $45 billion of additional funding to fight opioid addiction. But Patton argued it won't put a dent in the epidemic in states like Ohio. She explained that the plan guts Medicaid, one of the largest providers of addiction treatment and recovery services.

"It helps people in crisis and, because they have ongoing access to health care, it keeps them out of crisis,” she said. "It's a critical tool to fighting this particular epidemic. And yet we see lawmakers that think that this is not a good thing for the state of Ohio."

Patton noted that budget talks in Washington are forcing lawmakers at the state level to prepare for the worst as they make policy decisions, instead of focusing on what is in the best interest of Ohioans.

"The hard decisions about 'who gets covered; what services are cut and how; or do we cut education, do we cut other public services?' That is really at the heart at the difficulties that we see with the discussion in Congress,” she said.

Senate Republicans had planned to vote on the bill this week but have sense postponed it while Arizona Republican John McCain recovers from surgery.

This collaboration is produced in association with Media in the Public Interest and funded by the George Gund Foundation.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH