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Local Healthcare Providers Weigh Pros and Cons on Medicaid Expansion

Debate continues over Ohio Governor John Kasich’s proposed expansion of Medicaid - outlined in his state budget plan last month.  Conservatives say its big government - Democrats like increased medical coverage for the poor and disabled. As WYSO's Jerry Kenney reports, both pros and cons surrounding the expansion will affect services provided by local medical professionals and organizations.

According to Bryan Bucklew with the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association, Medicaid expansion in the state of Ohio would mean medical coverage for another 60,000 people in Montgomery County alone, and between 100 - 110 thousand people in the Association's Service area.

One problem, Bucklew says, that would be alleviated by the Medicaid expansion-the treatment of chornic disease for the uninsured.

"And a lot of those times, when they come to the emergency room,we're just treating those symptoms of those chronic diseases, and so hopefully with this coverage uh, expansion, that people would be able to get that primary care, that preventive care, rather than just treating the symptoms," says Bucklew.

For all the good that's expected by Medicaid expansion supporters, Bucklew says there are also uncertainties created by the new healthcare law.  That's the common denomiantor for Insurance companies, and state and federal governments. He says no one knows how the new exchanges are going to work.

"So, everybody is trying to figure out what the ground rules are - what the rules and regulations are."

And Bucklew says putting more people into an unfunded healthcare system that doesn't work - won't work,

"There are people on both sides of the isle, both democrats and republicans that are concerned that we're using borrowed money, we're using financed money to fund this Medicaid expansion, and so that's been a big source of contention."

How these points of contention will work out remains to be seen and Bucklew says what's important is getting people access to a stable healthcare system. Either way, he says there are "dramatic changes" for the healthcare industry - for patients, providers, and insurers -  coming in 2014.

Jerry Kenney was introduced to WYSO by a friend and within a year of first tuning in became an avid listener and supporter. He began volunteering at the station in 1991 and began hosting Alpha Rhythms in February of 1992. Jerry joined the WYSO staff in 2007 as a host of All Things Considered and soon transitioned into hosting Morning Edition. In addition to now hosting All Things Considered, Jerry is the host and producer of WYSO Weekend, WYSO's weekly news and arts magazine. He has also produced several radio dramas for WYSO in collaboration with local theater companies. Jerry has won several Ohio AP awards as well as an award from PRINDI for his work with the WYSO news department. Jerry says that the best part of his job is being able to talk to people in the community and share their experiences with WYSO listeners.