In a series of politically and ideologically motivated moves late in the lame duck session, the Republican-controlled Ohio legislature is playing chicken with Governor Kasich at the 11th hour. The issues? Medicaid expansion, the 6- and 13- week abortion bans, a bill that preempts local gun regulations, and the pay raise our legislators gave themselves.
Last week, in a flurry of activity, legislators passed bans on abortion, a gun bill, and then a pay raise for themselves, which they attached to a bill to provide extended death benefits to families of first responders who died while on duty.
Though he has not done so yet, Governor Kasich has pledged to veto several of these bills. Also of significant importance is Kasich’s veto of the legislature’s bill from last year that would freeze Ohio’s Medicaid expansion program. If/when the legislature returns to override the Governor’s vetoes on any of the bills passed last week, our legislators also intend to override his veto of the Medicaid expansion freeze, which would be disastrous for Equitas Health and our patients.
We know this message can be a little tricky, so this is what you can say to your Representative and Senator:
“If you come back to override Governor Kasich’s vetoes, please do not override his veto of the Medicaid expansion freeze. Ohio’s most vulnerable citizens depend on it for life saving health care. Freezing Medicaid expansion won’t mean that people will stop getting health care – they will continue to get care, but in more expensive settings, which will result in a cost shift to others.”
The Medicaid expansion program covers an estimated 700,000 Ohioans aged 19 through 64 with incomes up to 138% of the federal poverty level (or $16,753 per year for an individual). Before the expansion program, Medicaid eligibility for adults was limited to those with certain qualifying characteristics such as parenthood or disability and only covered people up to 90% of the federal poverty level. Since its inception, the Medicaid expansion program has helped more than 1.2 million Ohioans stay healthy and find stable work, and it has kept healthcare costs down.
Medicaid expansion programs have been crucial to those living with HIV and LGBTQ people—particularly in communities of color—in a number of ways.
First, members of the LGBTQ community face higher rates of poverty and unemployment, so the expanded income thresholds for Medicaid mean that more LGBTQ people are eligible for coverage. The expansion program also allows low-income childless adults to gain healthcare coverage, something that is particularly helpful for the LGBTQ community. Lastly, the expansion guarantees coverage for people living with HIV without first requiring them to have an AIDS diagnosis to become eligible for Medicaid. Through the implementation of Medicaid expansion in 26 states, including here in Ohio, thousands of LGBTQ people and people living with HIV gained insurance coverage that they otherwise wouldn’t have had. Insurance coverage helps these individuals access important services like primary care, thus reducing later complications and costs.
We need your voice—tell your Ohio House Rep and State Senator to keep Ohio’s Medicaid expansion to protect the healthcare coverage for millions of Ohioans.
Protecting our patients’ care is of the utmost importance to us here at Equitas Health. We will continue our work to ensure that Ohio’s Medicaid expansion stays intact, but we need your help. Call your Ohio House Representative and Senator TODAY.
Yours in the fight,