I-Team asks if crisis is in the making for Medicaid - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

I-Team asks if crisis is in the making for Medicaid

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The 13abc I-Team is watching out for your money and your health.  As supporters and critics of the new health care law go back and forth, is there a crisis in the making to pay for part of it?

There's one part not getting a lot of attention but could end up costing a lot of money to everyone in the end.

Everyone needs to get health insurance, that's the law.  Lots of people get it through their employer, now people sign up through the healthcare exchange, but what happens if you can't afford either one?  You are supposed to end up in the Medicaid pool.  More people are now eligible for that coverage.

With more people signing up, the question is, who will pay for it?  The I-Team has investigated what the change will mean for your wallet. 

"It was like ‘Thank God' because now at least I have medical because I am diabetic and I have not been able to pay for my prescriptions," said Rodney Shock, a new Medicaid recipient. 

But Shock will be able to pay for his meds.  He's newly enrolled in Medicaid.  "I really didn't think I'd be the one to get it," said Shock. 

Democrats and at least some Republicans agreed with the expansion, allowing people living at 138% of the poverty level to receive benefits. 

"It's good for our communities and it's good for our people," said Ohio governor John Kasich. 

"The whole idea of getting people in the health care system with Medicaid over time makes financial sense," said Senator Sherrod Brown.

Here's a look at how much money that 138% actually turns into depending on people in the household. 

Household Size                                     Income Level

1                                                                      $15,856

2                                                                      $21,406

3                                                                      $26,952

4                                                                      $32,499

5                                                                      $38,047

6                                                                      $43,594

7                                                                      $49,142

 

"We're going to have more treatment for those who are drug addicted, to get them off drugs and into work.  There's going to be more money available to help the mentally ill so that they can get their lives together and they can be in a position where they can be successful," said Kasich. 

The money to pay for this is the concern.  December was the last month without the expansion.  The feds and the state spent a total of $1.38 billion.  The federal government will pay 100% of the expansion for the next three years.  By 2020, the state will pick up 10% of that.  Whether it's state or federal, it's still your money, so the I-team went looking for answers about how this will be funded.

"You have some fees in the bill.  You're asking people to pay what they can.  Some can't through Medicaid, others can through the exchange.  And you'll have a healthier longer term, healthier population," said Brown.   

The I-Team uncovered just over 60,000 Ohioans selected a marketplace plan through February 1st but the Medicaid number is much higher.  Over 78,000 Ohioans have been deemed eligible for Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program.  So will people paying for their insurance subsidize people who can't?

"The Affordable Care Act has various ways to save money.  It has a medical device tax.  It has some other ways of raising revenue," said Brown. 

The I-Team asked Senator Brown if we afford doing this expansion going forward in the long term: "A couple of things happen.  When people have health insurance they're less likely to go to the emergency room to get their coverage.  If you have a child with an ear infection and you have a family doctor, you go to that doctor.  You spend $50 to get an antibiotic," said Brown. 

"The opportunity to receive good care, at the end of the day, is going to be really an efficient program, a good program and a healthy program for our families," said Lucas County Commissioner Tina Skeldon-Wozniak.

Lucas County administers the program on a local level and already there's been a cost here.

"We've added new workers to help with this program," said Skeldon-Wozniak.

Commissioner Skeldon-Wozniak says that number is 20.

"There is a cost.  Good healthcare has a cost in the beginning but at the end of the day good health care is usually more efficient and less costly as you move forward," said Skeldon-Wozniak. 

Skeldon- Wozniak says money is in place, so the mandate is covered.

More people are still expected to enroll.  Only 23,000 people, statewide, have enrolled so far.  It's expected to be closer to 366,000 July 2015.

And then this, a problem with healthcare.gov, did not send applications from the feds to the state, leaving 94,000 people in limbo.

If you think you might be eligible or applied already and have not heard back, visit benefits.ohio.gov or your local job and family services office to make sure you information actually made it to the state.

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