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Montgomery County Sees A Spike In Medicaid Enrollment

Lewis Wallace

 The Montgomery County Department of Job and Family Services reports uninsured people in the Dayton area are starting to take advantage of the newly expanded eligibility for Medicaid.

In November, Ohio Governor John Kasich went around legislators to accept $2 billion in federal Affordable Care Act funds for the program. Gov. Kasich was met with fierce opposition from within his own Republican party, and he used the controlling board, a board he appoints, to circumvent legislative approval for the program."Business has picked up quite a bit," says Kevin Lavoie of Montgomery County. He says in October and November together, only 17 people applied for Medicaid in the county; last week alone saw 358 new applications. The department has almost doubled the number of people it has trained to register residents for state benefits.

Still, the numbers fall short of the 29,000 people Lavoie thinks are newly eligible for Medicaid in Montgomery County alone. Ohio Medicaid now covers all adults making less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level, or around $15,000 a year for an individual. A new website, benefits.ohio.gov, can quickly tell you whether you are eligible.

Around the country, the question of Medicaid expansion has proved controversial. The Affordable Care Act was designed to cover all low-income Americans through expanded state Medicaid programs, but nearly half the states have declined to take federal money to expand the program. That means in many states, adults living below the poverty line fall into an insurance gap and cannot receive subsidies through the new law. Gov. Kasich framed his support for the expansion as a bipartisan, humanitarian issue despite his opposition to many parts of the ACA.