Gov. Ted Strickland is upset because the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services rejected Ohio's plan to expand Medicaid eligibility to more families in Ohio. In fact, the state's plan would have increased the eligibility threshold from 200% of poverty level up to to 300%, meaning that families of four earning $62,000 per year would be eligible. In fact, he said he was 'appalled' by the decision.
He now plans to revise the request, increasing the eligibility threshold from 200% to 250% of poverty level. If the request is funded under SCHIP, the state would have a 30% match requirement. If the request is funded under Medicaid, the state would have a 40% match.
But then, there was today's Blade article in which the state's Medicaid struggles are detailed:
"...the governor who made expanded health care a priority angered supporters by delaying plans to restore promised dental Medicaid benefits to low-income adults that were eliminated two years ago.
As Medicaid rolls increase at a clip faster than expected, the governor also delayed promised fee increases for medical professionals providing Medicaid services.
And on Friday, the governor learned that the state likely will have to spend $207 million more for Medicaid than the budget anticipated, indicating that even more belt-tightening is to come."
So, if we've cut Medicaid services like dental benefits, delayed fee increases for medical providers and will have to spend $207 million MORE than budgeted, why are we asked the feds for permission to expand eligibility?
People making $62,000 per year are, according to IRS data, at the top end of the definition of middle class. Only 25% of wage earners make more than that - meaning that Strickland's rejected proposal was NOT covering 'low-income' families, but was, in fact, a request to cover all middle-class families - some of whom already have private insurance. And he wanted to do so while keeping cuts in services to people already enrolled in Medicaid.
The state cannot afford to meet its current commitments as budgeted, but they want to add more people onto the Medicaid rolls. Where is the logic in this?