A controversial part of the governor's new budget proposal involves expanding Medicaid coverage in the Buckeye State.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich is proposing the expansion of the Medicaid program in Ohio to include those making up to 133 percent of the poverty line, to provide coverage to an estimated 300,000 additional Ohioans.
Kevin Webb, president of ProMedica's Acute Care Division, says that will mean more people checking into a primary care physician's office and not being checked out at an emergency room.
"If you don't have health insurance, it's pretty hard for you to access primary care, a family practitioner if you have a chronic condition. Then when you get sick, or get sicker, then your main option for getting health care is going to an emergency room," said Webb.
According to Webb, last year at Toledo Hospital, uninsured patients received $16 million worth of health care services. He believes expanding Medicaid would result in lower health care premiums.
"You're already paying for these people who don't have health insurance through higher premiums on your health insurance," explained Webb.
The big question is, will the Republican-controlled Ohio General Assembly go along with the governor's plan?
State Rep. Tim Brown says a key consideration is the federal government promise to fully fund the program for three years and then pay 90 percent.
"Should after the first three years of luring us into the program they decide they're not going to fund it and shift primary funding responsibility to the states, I think we have to be prepared. How would we deal with that?" said Brown.
Brown says he favors a provision in the governor's plan to reverse the Medicaid expansion, should the federal government change the funding terms. He says it is important for the state to consider helping those who continue to struggle in this economy.
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