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Brown Urges Ohioans to Make Their Voices Heard Following Proposal to Increase Healthcare Costs for Hundreds of Thousands Across The State

April 21, 2016 - 9:41 AM

From the Office of Senator Brown

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following the release of a proposal that would increase healthcare costs for hundreds of thousands of Ohioans, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) urged Ohioans to make their voices heard during the public comment period before the plan is submitted to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for review. The proposed changes to Ohio’s popular Medicaid expansion would require non-disabled adults, including some pregnant women, to pay premiums for coverage that is currently free. Ohioans have until May 16 to submit public comment on the proposal before the state submits the plan to CMS for additional review.

“Ohio has earned national praise and attention for its Medicaid expansion,” Brown said. “Unfortunately, a plan is underway right now to gut Ohio’s Medicaid expansion by rolling back the progress we’ve made and increasing health care costs for up to one million Ohioans.

“These are hardworking Ohioans who aren’t looking for a handout – they just want to be able to keep caring for their families,” Brown continued. “Luckily, this change is not a done deal and that’s why I am encouraging people to make their voices heard. If you have a story to tell about how this outrageous change will hurt your family, we need you to tell it.”

During a news conference call today, Brown encouraged Ohioans to visit his website to share their stories about Medicaid expansion and what it means for the health and well-being of Ohio’s communities. Brown was joined on the call by James Misak, MD, of MetroHealth. Dr. Misak was involved in securing MetroHealth’s early Medicaid waiver and discussed how the model improved the health status and outcomes of low-income populations.

“The MetroHealth Care Plus program in 2013 enrolled over 28,000 previously uninsured Cuyahoga County residents in an early demonstration to study the impacts of expanded Medicaid coverage combined with access to high-quality, coordinated health care,” Dr. Misak said. “Enrollees demonstrated improvements in care and outcomes for diabetes and high blood pressure while decreasing emergency department utilization and overall costs of care. In our view, continuous health coverage matters. Changing a currently successful Medicaid program to one that leads to gaps in coverage and care will most likely result in higher costs for the health system and poorer health outcomes for Ohioans.”

In 2013, Governor Kasich expanded Ohio’s Medicaid program through the Affordable Care Act, providing health coverage for more than 600,000 Ohioans, many for the first time. But the state’s 2016-2017 budget bill requires the Ohio Department of Medicaid (ODM) to apply to the federal government for permission to change, or “waive,” the way the program is currently run. This new proposal would require nearly all non-disabled adults, including some pregnant women, on Medicaid who currently qualify for the program to pay premiums to maintain coverage and would impose caps on yearly and lifetime expenses. Additionally, the proposal includes additional co-payments and cost-sharing requirements. The full proposal and a summary document are available on ODM’s website.

Ohioans can submit comments by emailing or writing to Healthy Ohio Program 1115 Demonstration Waiver (Bureau of Health Plan Policy Ohio Department of Medicaid, 50 W Town St., 5th Floor, Columbus OH 43218).

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