[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Access to Health Care
Access to affordable health care is a basic necessity for quality of life. At OPLC, we are working on behalf of low-income Ohioans to overcome barriers to health care coverage and services. Through policy advocacy and protection of legal rights, OPLC drives key advancements in our society that increase access to quality health care for everyone. OPLC is dedicated to actively working on the initiatives and issues below.
ISSUES & INITIATIVES
Medicaid Extension Waiver – Medicaid is a vital program that provides health care access to hundreds of thousands of Ohioans who otherwise would not be able to afford it. In January 2014, Ohio extended Medicaid coverage to a greater number of low-income Ohioans. This extension was funded with federal dollars under the Affordable Care Act and made affordable health care available to an additional 650,000 Ohio residents who had not been covered by Medicaid previously. Many of these Ohioans are working but still fall below the poverty level and qualify for Medicaid.
The Ohio Department of Medicaid recently filed a request with the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to change Ohio’s Medicaid plan to add premium payments and other requirements that will make it difficult for hardworking and unemployed Ohioans to keep their healthcare coverage. ODM applied to CMS for a waiver that would allow Ohio to opt out of the usual Medicaid requirements that are meant to encourage access to health care services in favor of a complicated scheme that adds layers of bureaucracy.
If Ohio obtains the waiver as set out in the state budget, it will mean a big step backward in Ohio’s smart investment in a healthier population. It requires people to pay insurance premiums before receiving Medicaid protection, includes a complex plan similar to a health savings account, and will lock people out of coverage if they miss payments. These requirements will apply to people who are at and below the poverty line – even to people with no income at all. These people may include women eligible for the Breast and Cervical Cancer program, low-income parents and caretakers, and several other categories of medically-vulnerable Ohioans.
OPLC is fighting to protect the rights of Medicaid beneficiaries by advocating for Ohio’s Medicaid policies and laws to meet the needs of low-income individuals. When the Ohio Department of Medicaid released its plan, OPLC and legal aid programs submitted comments to the Ohio Department of Medicaid that outlined how Ohio’s waiver proposal defeats the objectives of the Medicaid program by creating unnecessary barriers to enrollment and access to care.
On August 4, OPLC filed comments and legal analysis with CMS. We were proud to be joined by Ohio Disability Rights Law and Policy Center, Ohio Domestic Violence Network, ACTION Ohio Coalition for Battered Women, Ohio Olmstead Task Force, and the Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies.
More information and resources
- Analysis and Comments written by the Ohio Poverty Law Center and filed with the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
- This quick one-page document summarizes the problems with the waiver, which is called “Healthy Ohio.”
- OPLC, Columbus and Cincinnati Legal Aid analysis and comments on the proposed plan. Ohio 1115 Waiver Comments final 2016-5-13
- OPLC attorney Linda Cook’s article on Policy Matter’s blog
- OhioSPEAKS – a collection of stories from everyday Ohioans that illustrate how investments in health and human services strengthen our families and communities. http://advocatesforohio.org/ohiospeaks/
Ohio’s medical professionals and citizens voiced overwhelming opposition to the waiver
Over 950 Ohio citizens and civic, faith-based, and community organizations filed comments with the Ohio Department of Medicaid after it released its proposed plan! Most comments urged the Department of Medicaid to keep Medicaid available to Ohio’s citizens.
Comments filed by Ohio’s citizens with CMS (the federal agency deciding whether to grant the waiver) included hospitals, hospital and health-related associations, doctors, social workers, nurses and many other professionals and individual concerned Ohio citizens. Nearly all of the comments point out the harm that will be caused to Ohio’s citizens if CMS grants the waiver. They are thoughtful, informative, and well worth reading. Here are just two of the many comments by people who know:
“I’m a pediatrician with 40 years’ practice experience. I worked at Kaiser in Cleveland and it was very clear that any impediment to parents getting care for their children resulted in poor health. We already have the worst child health of all developed countries….Turn it down!!!” Karl W. Hess, MD, FAAP