Former Buckeye Maurice Clarett Brings Familiar Face To Medicaid Debate

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UPDATED: Wednesday August 28, 2013 7:50 PM

A former Ohio State Buckeye football player is opening up about his addiction and depression problems as he advocates expanding Medicaid in Ohio.

Maurice Clarett went from the heights of being on a National Championship football team to robbery and weapons convictions that put him behind bars.

"I never came out and told anybody out of embarrassment," said Clarett about his battle with addiction and depression.  "Just the medication I take now - my thoughts are straight, my head is calm, I can see life slowly.  You know, depressing moments don't seem depressing anymore."

Clarett helped steer the Buckeyes to a National Championship in 2002, but in the years following his life went off-track.

He now says treatment for addiction and depression helped him turn things around.

"This is my life, this is what happened to me so this is just me speaking from my heart," Clarett told 10TV.  "You talk to anybody around me in my life and who have seen a difference. That difference is the treatment I've been getting."

Clarett believes other Ohioans should have the same treatment options available to them.

"Being inside a prison, growing up in the inner city, or even being in suburbia America everyone suffers from some sort of thing," said Clarett.  "And I think mental health problems lead to addiction problems."

Claret joined with other advocates at the statehouse Wednesday to push lawmakers to approve Medicaid expansion.

Supporters say that would give more people access to drug treatment options and mental health help.

Medicaid expansion will be the top issue lawmakers tackle when they return to Columbus next month.

They face an October 1 deadline to approve the expansion in order to get the Medicaid program up and running by January 1, 2014.

Opponents, including Jim DeMint, the president of the conservative Heritage Foundation, oppose the expansion.

"Government compassion doesn't work," said DeMint. "If you look at the long term costs of this, it's not good for Ohio and it's not good for the people either.  There are better ways to get good insurance in the hands of those who need it."

DeMint was in Columbus on Tuesday as part of the "defund Obamacare" tour.

If Ohio lawmakers refuse to approve Medicaid expansion, the state will lose out on more than $13 billion promised by the federal government.

Clarett says that’s a waste because when people have access to medication, it gives them a chance to live life.

"You just don't understand the amount of pain that a person who's going through that mental state goes through and how it affects everybody, it becomes a strain on society" said Clarett.  "Now that I'm back mentally healthy, I can be a productive individual and help influence a lot of people."

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