GOP health bill threatens Ohio Medicaid, study says

House Republicans’ proposal to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act will eventually force Ohio to eliminate expanded Medicaid benefits, which now cover more than 700,000 low-income Ohioans, according to a new study from the liberal-leaning Policy Matters Ohio.

The GOP plan would shift more of the cost of expansion, which is now completely paid for by the federal government, to states and provide less assistance to people with low incomes.

Each state would receive a share of federal funding for Medicaid in the form of block grants, but the grants would be pegged to 2016 costs, eliminating the states’ flexibility to expand benefits to meet the rising cost of health care, Policy Matters found.

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“This is bad news for Ohio, where the population is aging rapidly. Health care is the most costly among the elderly, so as the population ages, costs rise. But the federal share will not: in fact, the plan penalizes states with rising costs by imposing a penalty of reduced funding. This could lead to reduced Medicaid coverage for all Ohioans, but especially for growing and costly segments of the population, like seniors,” Policy Matters said in a statement.

The GOP bill would also eliminate a requirement under the Affordable Care Act that Medicaid cover basic mental-health and addiction services in states that expanded the federal-state health insurance program for the poor.

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The measure, which would take effect in 2020, could have grave raminfications for states like Ohio, where the number of people dying from heroin and other opioid overdoses is skyrocketing.

“Medicaid is the biggest insurer in the state, covering a quarter of Ohioans, 3 million people,” said Policy Matters’ Wendy Patton. “The people of Ohio have been helped by the Affordable Care Act. Too many would be hurt by its repeal and the restructuring of Medicaid under the new Republican plan.”


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