Lisa Bernard-Kuhn reports:
Countless health care groups and non-profits applauded Gov. John Kasich’s decision Monday to expand Medicaid coverage to hundreds of thousands low-income Ohioans under his proposed two-year state budget.
The move positions Ohio among a growing contingent of Republican-led states that are leaning toward extending coverage, an option given to states under the federal Affordable Care Act, the law dubbed Obamacare and opposed by most GOP officials.
The proposal will now be up to Ohio’s legislature to decide. That means Kasich will have to get to work converting members of his own party in order to bring $13 billion in federal funds to the state and extend coverage to at least 275,000 additional low-income Ohioans.
“I am not a supporter of Obamacare,” Kasich said Monday, “but I think (Medicaid expansion) makes great sense for the state because it will allow us to deliver care using our dollars for people who, up until now, haven’t been able to afford (healthcare insurance) through their job, or they were not able to find a job.”
About 2.2 million Ohioans currently have Medicaid coverage.
Kasich estimated that at least 275,000 more Ohioans would be eligible under the expanded program. But other estimates show as many as 600,000 Ohioans could be eligible.
Another 300,000 Ohioans are expected to fall into a category officials call the “woodwork effect”: People who are currently eligible but not enrolled and expected to sign up in the coming years. The federal government would not be on the hook for covering the costs those individuals, officials have said.