Governor’s Medicaid Department Touts Successes, Defends Payment Proposal

Feb 24, 2015

Governor John Kasich’s Department of Medicaid was in Wilmington Tuesday touting the success of Medicaid expansion and discussing ongoing reforms, including a proposal to start charging premiums to some low-income recipients.

Since the state started taking federal funds to expand Medicaid to more low-income adults, hundreds of thousands have signed up. That’s made a big dent in the uninsured rate, and been a big deal for people like Christina Schnetzer, who has been struggling with underemployment and chronic health problems.

“I could have been in a much more grave situation than I’m currently in—because of this I’ve been able to take my medication,” said Schnetzer. A resident of rural southern Ohio, she’s been going back to school and trying to find more than part-time work over the last many years.

The governor’s proposed two-year budget would ask people making between 100 and 138 percent of the federal poverty level to pay a $20 monthly premium.

“Twenty dollars might be a whole lot of money at once,” said Schnetzer, who herself is still buried in debt from years of having no health care. She believes there should be at least a one-year grace period of free healthcare with no premiums for people like her to stabilize. 100 percent of the federal poverty level amounts to around $980 per month in wages.

“There’s an idea of personal responsibility and contributing to the services that they get,” said John McCarthy, head of the Department of Medicaid.

Health care providers at the event also talked about the need to reform payment systems and reduce bureaucracy. A lot of agencies serving low-income people are still under-resourced, and many applying for care still see long backups in order to qualify for coverage or to get appointments.