Report: Ohio’s Medicaid expansion benefits health, finances


COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Republican Gov. John Kasich’s administration has found the state’s 2014 Medicaid expansion resulted in health and financial benefits to many poor Ohioans.

The findings were contained in a report created at the request of the General Assembly and released Friday, The Columbus Dispatch reported (http://bit.ly/2isP4wb ).

Among 702,000 who gained coverage as of May 2016, it showed:

— 75 percent had been previously uninsured

— 27 percent were diagnosed with at least one chronic condition after obtaining coverage

— About a third screened positive for depression and anxiety disorders

— 32 percent were diagnosed with substance abuse or dependence

New enrollees typically were unmarried white men with a high-school diploma or less. Forty-three percent were employed.

The analysis was based on a telephone survey of more than 7,500 Medicaid beneficiaries and a review of medical records.

“This report clearly illustrates the benefits of extending Medicaid coverage to more low-income Ohioans, including helping to identify and control expensive chronic health conditions, while also making it easier for them to find and keep a job,” state Medicaid director Barbara Sears told the newspaper.

Ohio was one of 31 states to expand Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act, which President-elect Donald Trump and congressional Republicans have said they want to repeal. The expansion allowed coverage for those making up to 138 percent of poverty, or $16,243 a year for an individual. Previous eligibility was limited to poor children, parents and the disabled.

Under current law, the federal government picks up the full cost of newly eligible beneficiaries this year, 95 percent in 2017 and 90 percent in 2020.

Expansion pushed Ohio’s Medicaid rolls to more than 3 million people, for a total cost of $25.3 billion in the fiscal year that ended June 30, the paper reported. That was up from 2.4 million people and $20 billion the previous year.

Kasich is expected to maintain Medicaid expansion in the two-year budget he proposes early in 2017. The study found it improved access to physical and mental health care, improved overall health and reduced costly emergency room visits.

According to the report, the expansion has pushed the share of uninsured people among poor working-age adults down to 14 percent, the lowest ever reported.