By Nelson Burns CEO of Coleman Professional Services
Last month, the Ohio Legislature voted to make major changes to the Affordable Care Act, especially in Medicaid expansion. Below is a summary of what the Ohio House and Senate wants along with a few proactive tips you can take to help stop this momentum.
What the Legislature Wants
The Ohio Legislature wants the State of Ohio to apply for a State Innovation Waiver under Section 1332 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which permits a state to apply for a waiver so it can create innovative strategies for giving residents high quality, affordable health insurance while still retaining the basic protections of the ACA.
The Legislature desires to change the following aspects of Medicaid expansion, under the auspices of a State Innovation Waiver:
Work requirements: The House and Senate want Medicaid rules waived in Ohio so Medicaid expansion would only cover people with jobs, in school, or with serious illness. Medicaid doesn’t normally allow a work requirement because that contradicts the goal of expanding health care coverage to low-income people. Only 43% of those on Medicaid in Ohio are currently working.
Medicaid expansion freeze: The Senate added a provision to the budget bill that would halt enrollment in the Medicaid expansion group as of July 1, 2018. This freeze means hundreds of thousands of individuals could lose coverage, hurting the effort to reduce the opioid drug epidemic, which primarily affects the poor. The governor vetoed the freeze.
Medicaid expansion has allowed 723,000 Ohioans to gain health care coverage, many for the first time. Unemployed participants interviewed for the Kasich administration’s assessment of Medicaid expansion reported that having access to health care made it easier for them to seek employment.
Behavioral Health redesign: Behavioral health care for those covered by Medicaid is to be administered by Medicaid managed care plans, and the Legislature delayed the implementation timeline. The governor vetoed the delay and the House overrode it (95-2); the Ohio Senate also voted to override with a near unanimous vote.
In addition, the Governor wants to move Ohio off the exchanges, which allow Ohioans to purchase health insurance that complies with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. These exchanges allow consumers to choose from a range of government-regulated and standardized health care plans offered by insurers participating in the exchange. This would remove the stipulation that:
- Every Ohioan carry insurance
- Employers provide insurance to their employees
Some Key Facts
Ohio cannot simply drop or alter the Affordable Care Act without 1) pitching a better alternative and 2) gaining federal permission to change from the US Departments of Health and Human Services AND Treasury.
From my perspective, the ideas listed above are not innovative enough for the federal government to allow for said changes. However, this does not mean you and I should sit around waiting for the Ohio Legislature to act.
Please Be Proactive
As the CEO of Coleman Professional Services, I ask that you write, email, or telephone the Governor, your State Representative, and State Senator ASAP and share with them your thoughts about Ohio’s plans to alter the Affordable Care Act. Not sure how to contact them? Click on the hyperlinks below for help:
Second, please keep informed about Ohio Medicaid proposed changes by subscribing to receive updates from Policy Matters Ohio.
Last, follow the social media channels of our Ohio government officials for real-time updates on what is going on in Columbus.
Together, we can keep Obamacare intact and the over 700,000 Ohioans who need Medicaid from losing their coverage!