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Report: Ohioans Stand to Lose with Medicaid Work Requirements

Nearly 36,000 Ohioans risk losing health care coverage under a Medicaid work requirement proposal. (franchise opportunities/Flickr)
Nearly 36,000 Ohioans risk losing health care coverage under a Medicaid work requirement proposal.
(franchise opportunities/Flickr)
April 12, 2018

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Despite being employed, some Ohioans could lose health care coverage if the state implements a Medicaid work requirement.

The Kasich administration plans to ask for federal approval to add job requirements for able-bodied adults covered through the state's Medicaid expansion. But the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities examined the impact of a similar initiative in Kentucky, and found almost half of low-income workers who could be affected by Medicaid work requirements would risk losing coverage at least one month out of the year.

Study co-author Aviva Aron-Dine, vice president for health policy at the center, said she thinks supporters of the proposal don't understand the conditions faced by low-wage workers.

"It is simply not the case that people who want to and are trying to can necessarily find stable jobs at regular hours,” Aron-Dine said. “Instead, most Medicaid enrollees work in industries where both employment and hours are volatile."

She cited industries like food service, construction, retail and home health care.

The report also found the red tape involved in reporting compliance could even cause some enrollees who meet the work requirement to lose medical coverage. Supporters have said the goal is to bring a measure of personal responsibility to the Medicaid program with fair and reasonable work requirements.

Aron-Dine said loss of coverage can lead to poor health outcomes, especially for people with chronic conditions. She added when a person's health suffers, it becomes harder to work.

"Among working people who gained coverage through the Medicaid expansion in Ohio, the majority said that Medicaid made it easier to keep working,” she said. “That's hardly surprising. When people can get the right treatment for their diabetes or their heart condition or their depression, they're more likely to be able to go to work every day."

According to state estimates, about 36,000 Ohioans risk losing health coverage under the proposal - about 5 percent of those who gained coverage through the Medicaid expansion.

Reporting by Ohio News Connection in association with Media in the Public Interest, and funded in part by the George Gund Foundation.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH