Medicaid Expansion Bill Pushed By Ohio Democratic Lawmaker

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Democratic state senator Capri Cafaro has introduced legislation that would expand Medicaid coverage in Ohio.

"Sadly, I think there's only one reason not to act at this time - it's motivated by cowardice, by fear, and motivated by politics," said Cafaro.  "This bill achieves the goal of covering more Ohioans, primarily working adults, while holding providers and patients accountable."

Cafaro's bill would authorize the Department of Medicaid to expand coverage.

It includes a 'circuit breaker' that would allow Ohio to roll back expansion in the future if federal funding levels change.

It would also transition more people into the coming health insurance marketplace.

Carfaro says a study shows the expansion would also lower costs.

"Starting in 2014, both the state share is actually lower under the expansion scenario," said Cafaro.  "The state share in 2014 without expansion is $7.94 billion.  The state share in 2014 with expansion is $7.78 billion."

Gov. John Kasich had proposed an expansion of Medicaid in his budget that would cover 275,000 uninsured Ohioans earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level.

Ohio Republican lawmakers rejected it, complaining that both Medicare and Medicaid are unsustainable programs at the federal level.

Christina Schnetzer says she is one of those Ohioans who would be covered if Medicaid is expanded.

"I think a lot of people have this misnomer that this is going to help the infamous 'welfare mom' that we seem to blame everything on," said Schnetzer.  "It's about working people. Even if I was at the job I just recently had to leave, I still would fall into that 138 percentile working 40 hours a week."

Schnetzer said she lost her Medicaid coverage after recently becoming unemployed.  She also lost benefits after her daughter turned 18-years-old.

"I've worked two or three jobs at a time to support my family," Schnetzer said.  "I think we're blind-sided when we think this is just about everybody who doesn't work."

Republican Rep. Ron Amstutz, the chairman of the House Finance and Appropriations Committee, says any Medicaid legislation will not be debated until this fall.

Cafaro says she does not hold Kasich responsible for the legislative inaction on expansion.

“I honestly think that the blame doesn’t lie with the governor, the blame lies with the leadership in the general assembly,” said Cafaro.  “There’s only so much the governor can do to move folks that I believe are motivated from irrational and selfish places.”

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