At least 75 advocates from the Akron- Canton area are expected to join a rally planned at the Statehouse on Thursday to support Medicaid expansion.
The rally is being organized after the Ohio House version of the state’s two-year budget, released Tuesday, didn’t include Gov. John Kasich’s plans to expand Medicaid for more low-income Ohio residents.
The Akron-Canton Medicaid Expansion Coalition is bringing together area hospitals, social service agencies, unions and other groups throughout Summit, Stark and surrounding counties to push state lawmakers to expand Medicaid eligibility.
“We are truly saddened by the House decision,” said Tracy Carter, co-chair of the local coalition and director of government affairs and health policy for Summa Health System’s Summa Foundation. “Many of us are surprised, given the data we’ve given about the economic impact and the health impact.”
Summa is providing a 14-seat bus from its Akron City Hospital campus to Columbus for the rally, Carter said. Many other participants are meeting at the campus at 9 a.m. Thursday to drive in a caravan to the Statehouse.
“For us, the opportunity is now,” she said. “We have to make some decisions for the working poor.”
The Akron-Canton Medicaid Expansion Coalition is one of several regional groups in Ohio urging state lawmakers to raise the income limit to qualify for health coverage through the state-federal program for the poor and disabled.
The governor’s budget proposal would boost Medicaid eligibility next year to 138 percent of the federal poverty level ($15,415 for an individual).
Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the federal health-care reform law but ruled states had the right to opt out of expanding Medicaid.
The federal government will pay 100 percent of the cost for three years for Medicaid patients newly eligible through the expansion in states that opt to raise the income limit to 138 percent of poverty. Federal funding then phases down to 90 percent.
Opponents question what Medicaid expansion will end up costing the state.
Currently, Ohio adults without children must have annual incomes of less than $7,068 for single residents or $12,132 per couple and very limited resources to qualify for coverage.
The state estimates that 275,000 low-income residents would qualify for Medicaid through the expansion.
Hospitals say that without expansion they will absorb federal payment cuts without the benefit of uninsured patients getting coverage. Summa officials have estimated the health system could lose $26 million through 2022 if Medicaid isn’t expanded.
Cheryl Powell can be reached at 330-996-3902 or email@example.com. Follow Powell on Twitter at twitter.com/abjcherylpowell.