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Report says change to Ohio Medicaid could bring disruption of health care for millions

 A treatment room at an urgent care clinic in greater Columbus
Karen Kasler
Statehouse News Bureau
A treatment room at an urgent care clinic in greater Columbus

A change to Ohio Medicaid will require the around three million people in the program to notify the state in the next few months whether they want to stay with their current managed care provider or pick a new one.

A progressive group says that will result in many of those Ohioans running into trouble accessing their health care.

When a new fiscal year begins in July, the state will have three new managed care providers for Medicaid: Humana Healthy Horizons in Ohio, Amerihealth Caritas Ohio, and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield. They'll join four existing providers: United Healthcare Community Plan of Ohio, Molina Healthcare of Ohio, CareSourceOhio and Buckeye Community Health Plan.

A contract with a fifth provider, Paramount Health Care, was not renewed by the state, and Paramount sued, saying the contract-awarding process was biased. A judge dismissed the case in November.

Franklin County Commission president and Democratic former state Rep. Erika Crawley said people keeping their current managed care plan haven’t had to let the state know they are. But now they will, or they’ll be assigned to a provider by computer algorithm.

“As a result, people could experience obstacles or disruptions in their health plans and coverage, including having to change doctors, finding a new pediatrician for their child or a new hospital system to meet their plan’s criteria," Crawley said.

Crawley cited a report from Innovation Ohio showing young people, people of color, and women, particularly with transient or unstable living arrangements are likely to be the most affected.

“For Medicaid members who are hard to reach, have trouble responding because of busy or difficult lives, or are transient or face other obstacles, this would be particularly harmful," Crawley said. "And the abrupt nature of the plan change only makes matters worse."

Medicaid hasn’t said how it will notify people of the change and the action they need to take.

Copyright 2022 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Karen is a lifelong Ohioan who has served as news director at WCBE-FM, assignment editor/overnight anchor at WBNS-TV, and afternoon drive anchor/assignment editor in WTAM-AM in Cleveland. In addition to her daily reporting for Ohio’s public radio stations, she’s reported for NPR, the BBC, ABC Radio News and other news outlets. She hosts and produces the Statehouse News Bureau’s weekly TV show “The State of Ohio”, which airs on PBS stations statewide. She’s also a frequent guest on WOSU TV’s “Columbus on the Record”, a regular panelist on “The Sound of Ideas” on ideastream in Cleveland, appeared on the inaugural edition of “Face the State” on WBNS-TV and occasionally reports for “PBS Newshour”. She’s often called to moderate debates, including the Columbus Metropolitan Club’s Issue 3/legal marijuana debate and its pre-primary mayoral debate, and the City Club of Cleveland’s US Senate debate in 2012.