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Press Release: Proposed State Budget Adds Work Requirements for Medicaid Expansion – 4/26/2017

Press Release: Proposed State Budget Adds Work Requirements for Medicaid Expansion- 4/26/2017

Yesterday Ohio’s House of Representatives released their proposed state budget for fiscal years 2018-2019, including the state Medicaid budget. The proposed Medicaid budget would change the eligibility requirements for the Medicaid expansion so that to qualify, enrollees would need to meet one of the following requirements: be 55 or older; have “intensive health care needs;” or be either employed, in school, or participating in an alcohol and drug addiction treatment program. A state budget must be passed by the Ohio legislature by June 30, 2017.

“Medicaid works, and it should be for everyone who needs it. This proposal takes away coverage from people who need health care and most likely have no other way to get it,” said Steve Wagner, Executive Director of Universal Health Care Action Network of Ohio (UHCAN Ohio). “Under this proposal, someone who has just been laid off from their job would no longer be eligible for Medicaid at the time they need it most. The same is true for a recent graduate who’s job hunting or someone who’s on a waiting list for drug and alcohol addiction treatment.”

The people affected by the proposed eligibility requirements are those who gained coverage through the Medicaid expansion. Before the expansion, most of this group was uninsured. Now that they are enrolled in Medicaid, they have better access to care, better management of health issues, and reduced use of the emergency room. Enrollees also say Medicaid made it easier to keep or seek employment and to meet their other basic needs.[i] A recently released study by researchers at The Ohio State University found that most people covered by the Medicaid expansion would have no other way to get coverage if they were no longer eligible for Medicaid.[ii]

Requiring Medicaid recipients to be employed is likely to cause many people to lose coverage. Most Medicaid enrollees who can work are already employed, and those who aren’t are often unable to work or have barriers to employment that make it difficult to gain or keep a job. This eligibility requirement is likely to cause many Ohioans to lose access to health care without significantly increasing employment.[iii] The proposal also does not include additional funding to create jobs, increase and improve job training, or provide meaningful help finding work for unemployed enrollees that would provide private employer health insurance.

“Studies have shown that work requirements don’t cut poverty, and they often make it worse,” said Wagner. “Taking away health care from struggling Ohioans will make it harder for them to work, not easier, especially for people who need care to stay healthy enough to work.”

UHCAN Ohio is a statewide non-partisan, non-profit organization building the voice of consumers to achieve quality, affordable, accessible health coverage for all Ohioans. www.uhcanohio.org

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[i] “Ohio Medicaid Group VIII Assessment: A Report to the Ohio General Assembly,” Ohio Department of Medicaid, December 30, 2016, http://medicaid.ohio.gov/portals/0/resources/reports/annual/group-viii-assessment.pdf.

[ii] Misti Crane, “Most new to Medicaid have no other option if Affordable Care Act repealed,” Ohio State University, April 24, 2017, https://news.osu.edu/news/2017/04/24/medicaid-expansion-repeal/.

[iii] Hannah Katch, “Medicaid Work Requirement Would Limit Health Care Access Without Significantly Boosting Employment,” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, July 13, 2016, http://www.cbpp.org/research/health/medicaid-work-requirement-would-limit-health-care-access-without-significantly.