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Two-thirds of Ohio’s Obamacare enrollees are on Medicaid

By   /   February 23, 2015  /   News  /   No Comments

Part 8 of 27 in the series Ohio's Obamacare expansion

By Jason Hart | Ohio Watchdog

More than two thirds of the Ohioans insured under Obamacare are covered by the law’s optional Medicaid expansion.

A total of 234,507 Ohioans have selected a private insurance policy through the federally run Obamacare exchange at HealthCare.gov, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported Wednesday.

As of January, enrollment in Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s Obamacare Medicaid expansion was 492,121. For every Ohioan choosing an Obamacare exchange plan, two have enrolled in the Obamacare Medicaid expansion.

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Millions of private health insurance policies nationwide were canceled as a result of Obamacare, but state and federal officials have not disclosed how many of the Ohioans covered under Obamacare were previously insured.

Because Medicaid reimbursement rates to care providers are so low, nearly 40 percent of Ohio State Medical Association doctors surveyed last year said they planned to accept fewer Medicaid patients in 2015.

Ohio Medicaid beneficiaries currently pay no premiums, and — assuming they can find a doctor — they receive the same “minimum essential benefits” Obamacare requires for policies sold at HealthCare.gov.

The exchange offers premium subsidies to Ohioans whose income is between 100 and 400 percent of the federal poverty line. Medicaid expansion coverage extends to 138 percent of the poverty line.

Actual exchange enrollment is likely lower than reported by the Obama administration. HHS figures are inflated by including individuals who choose an exchange plan but never pay a premium, Forbes editor and Manhattan Institute senior fellow Avik Roy explained in a Wednesday story.

“These figures undermine any claim by John Kasich that he did not support Obamacare, as two times as many people enrolled in his Medicaid expansion as in the exchange,” Matt Mayer, president of free-market think tank Opportunity Ohio, wrote in an email to Ohio Watchdog.

Kasich, a Republican, says he is against Obamacare and supports its repeal. However, Kasich’s implementation of the Obamacare Medicaid expansion has been a huge win for the president’s unpopular 2010 health insurance law.

President Obama points to Kasich as an example for all Republicans to follow, and insists the biggest problem with Obamacare is the refusal of 22 states to expand Medicaid. In Ohio alone, Medicaid expansion cost federal taxpayers $2.1 billion last year.

Ohio Senate President Keith Faber and Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger, under pressure not to rock the boat while Kasich considers a 2016 presidential run, have signaled they will do nothing to unwind Kasich’s Obamacare expansion.

Federal funding for the expansion is set to drop from 100 percent to 95 percent in 2017, and has already been targeted for cuts by the president and Congress. At current spending and enrollment, Kasich’s Obamacare expansion would cost state taxpayers $30 million per month by 2020.

In 2010, Kasich complained that Medicaid expansion would “stick states with large and unsustainable costs.” Obamacare was written to force every state to expand Medicaid to millions of able-bodied, working-age adults with no dependent children.

Ohio joined a federal lawsuit with Florida and 24 other states asserting the federal government could not withhold traditional Medicaid funding from states rejecting the Obamacare expansion. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the states’ favor in 2012.

Angling for billions per year in new federal funding and suddenly unconcerned about the long-term costs, Kasich opted to implement the Obamacare expansion in 2013 and circumvented the Ohio General Assembly to do so.

Kasich has argued Ohio’s rejection of the Obamacare Medicaid expansion would send “Ohio’s tax dollars” to other states, and he claims the Obamacare expansion isn’t part of Obamacare.

The governor’s Office of Health Transformation did not respond to an Ohio Watchdog request for comment.

While Obamacare exchange plan selection has slowed, the Obama administration has celebrated skyrocketing Medicaid enrollment. As of mid-2014, Medicaid expansion was responsible for roughly 71 percent of Obamacare enrollment nationally.

Part of 27 in the series Ohio's Obamacare expansion
  1. Obamacare expansion passes Ohio governor’s July 2015 projection
  2. Will Ohioans be taken in by Obamacare Medicaid spin?
  3. Ohio Gov. Kasich wants rubber stamp for Obamacare money
  4. Obamacare adds 450,000 Ohioans to Medicaid rolls
  5. Ohio: Who’s paying for Kasich’s Medicaid expansion?
  6. Ohio budget relies on billions in new Obamacare spending
  7. Ohio Obamacare expansion 33 percent over budget in first year
  8. Two-thirds of Ohio’s Obamacare enrollees are on Medicaid
  9. No money, no problem for Ohio Obamacare expansion
  10. Obamacare puts half a million Ohioans on Medicaid
  11. Ohio lawmakers show no inclination to stop budget-busting Obamacare expansion
  12. Ohio House Republicans embrace Obamacare expansion
  13. Ohio Obamacare expansion costs $3 billion in first 15 months
  14. Ohio’s Obamacare expansion already $1 billion over budget
  15. At $4 billion, Ohio Obamacare expansion blows past projected costs
  16. Ohio’s dependence on Medicaid is the worst in the Midwest
  17. Three-fourths of Ohio Obamacare enrollees are on Medicaid
  18. Ohio Medicaid spending is skyrocketing under Gov. Kasich
  19. Ohio’s Obamacare expansion has cost taxpayers $5 billion
  20. Ohio Obamacare expansion keeps getting bigger
  21. Has Ohio Gov. Kasich really restrained Medicaid growth?
  22. Flashback: Gov. Kasich’s Medicaid expansion end-run
  23. Kasich’s Medicaid expansion has cost taxpayers $7 billion
  24. Ohio Medicaid expansion sign-ups keep crushing projections
  25. How many Ohio Medicaid expansion enrollees have jobs?
  26. Ohio Medicaid expansion costs top $7.5 billion
  27. Ohio’s budget-busting Medicaid expansion trend continues

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Jason is an Ohio-based reporter covering labor issues for Watchdog.org, with a focus on right-to-work, public employee unions and Obamacare. Before joining Watchdog, Jason was communications director for Media Trackers Ohio. His work has been featured at FoxNews.com, Hot Air, The Daily Signal, RedState, Townhall and elsewhere. His investigations into labor union spending and Obamacare's Medicaid expansion have been cited by national commentators including Jim Geraghty, Michelle Malkin, Erick Erickson, Dana Loesch and Mark Levin. Jason can be reached on Twitter at @jasonahart and by email at jhart@watchdog.org