Ohio's Medicaid Expansion Supports Jobs By: Nelson W. Burns, CEO, Coleman Professoinal Services Ohio has received federal funding since 2014 that has provided Ohioans with health insurance that previously eluded them. This initiative has helped put roughly 54,000 to work in full- or part-time capacities. Yet, there has been an effort by the Ohio legislature to require at least 80 hours of work per month from each recipient or they will lose coverage. This simply may not be possible for many beneficiaries. In fact, Ohio estimates that about 18,000 people will lose their Medicaid coverage due to lack of compliance with the state’s proposed work requirement. At Coleman Professional Services, one of our missions is to Change Destinies by helping people obtain employment so they can have the satisfaction of working gainfully to better themselves and their families. Many of our clients have challenges in finding and keeping jobs that would fulfill the proposed work requirement. There are many others whose behavioral health disorders prevent them from working, at least for a time. Medicaid expansion has allowed Coleman to treat more individuals and to help them prepare for employment when it is appropriate for them. Here’s more information to help explain what the current issues are. Who Benefits Medicaid expansion has extended health insurance to individuals 18 years and older who live in or close to the poverty line. According to Policy Matters Ohio, this expansion has resulted in improved health, earlier diagnosis and timely treatment of chronic conditions. It has opened the gateway to treatment options for adults with addictions. Four Little Known Facts about Ohio’s Medicaid Expansion Program Medicaid expansion brings in over $4 billion a year into Ohio, with the federal government paying 93% of enrollees cost of care. By the year 2021, the Ohio Office of Budget and Management expects this number to rise to $5 billion. 33% of beneficiaries with continuous coverage state their physical health has improved. In 2017, only 9% of low-income Ohio adults were uninsured. Medicaid Expansion Workforce Dynamics Among those who are working, 83% said this coverage made it easier to work, according to the 2018 Ohio Medicaid Assessment Survey. 60% of working age people enrolled in Medicaid have jobs, but few receive employer benefits. In 2016, only 12% of this population received employer-provided health insurance. 40% of Ohio’s top employers are hospitals and health care providers. 22.4% of Jefferson County, 22.2% of Allen County, and 19.8% of Mahoning County jobs are in the private health care sector. According to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 36% of Medicaid enrolled adults cited illness or disability as the primary reason they are not working. My Observations Since its implementation in 2014, Medicaid expansion has helped our clients in multiple ways, from proactively supporting wellness initiatives to reducing the number of ER visits. Many of our clients have secured jobs through our Employment Services and housing through our Rental Management system. However, while we are in lame duck season and it’s unclear what will happen with this initiative. The Ohio General Assembly has said they want to freeze enrollment of Medicaid expansion AND pursue the 80 hour per month work requirement. Gov.-Elect DeWine said in a July 2018 interview, "We will also reform the program,” which leaves me concerned about what he plans to do. What You Can Do Please consider taking the following actions: Call or write Gov.-Elect DeWine, your Ohio Congressman and Senator to express your support of Medicaid Expansion. If you or someone you know is on Medicaid and needs a job, email us at EmploymentInfo@colemanservices.org to set up a free consultation. If you are an employer, especially one in the healthcare field who is experiencing a talent shortage, contact us to set up a meeting about the ways we can help. Coleman Professional Services Cares About Medicaid Expansion We are a nationally recognized not-for-profit provider of behavioral health and rehabilitation programs that improve the lives of individuals and families in a nine-county region of northern Ohio. Please contact us at 877-796-3555 if you’d like more information about this timely and sensitive issue.