Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Is new Sears bill another version of the Obamacare Medicaid expansion for Ohio?

I'll admit to not being an expert on the Medicaid expansion that Gov. John Kasich proposed for Ohio - as part of Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare - but this new bill introduced by Rep. Barbara Sears sure sounds a lot like it.

The House, after significant public pressure from conservatives and tea party groups, removed the Medicaid expansion from the budget bill (H.B. 59) earlier in the year. Rep. Sears was extensively criticized for her role in pushing the expansion and for what some considered was a violation of the Health Care Freedom Amendment overwhelmingly passed by Ohioans. She responded to those allegations, saying she did, in fact, support the Health Care Freedom Amendment, though she believed a pending bill would conflict with that amendment.

Speaker Bill Batchelder told reporters that a bill separate from the budget could be passed by the House before the end of June.

The press release below details some of the provisions of her legislation:

Rep. Sears Introduces Medicaid Reform Legislation

COLUMBUS—Today, State Representative Barbara Sears (R- Monclova Township) introduced legislation requiring the Director of Medical Assistance to implement Medicaid reforms that will identify ways to lower costs, reduce uncompensated care, and extend coverage to Ohio’s most vulnerable citizens.

The legislation would extend coverage to Ohioans under 138% of the federal poverty level and will provide critical health care services to Ohio’s poorest citizens. New enrollees in the Medicaid program will be fully funded by the federal government for the first three years. The bill provides protections for Ohio should the federal assistance percentage decrease below the specified amount after the third year.

Additional provisions of this legislation include encouraging personal responsibility through cost sharing, promoting employment-related services, and ensuring those who abuse narcotics receive proper treatment.

“Ohio’s Medicaid system has made substantial improvements over the past few years and this legislation furthers that effort,” Rep. Sears said. “By providing a ladder up and out of poverty through quality care, we are allowing for citizens to achieve greater self sufficiency and creating a healthier Ohio.”

The bill also includes requiring the Medicaid director to present a report to the General Assembly on the progress being made and specifies that the Joint Legislative Committee on Medicaid Technology and Reform consider and review the reforms implemented by this legislation.


The bill will be assigned a number Tuesday, but here is a link to the language submitted, as provided by her office.

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