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Under Plan, Ohio Must Talk To Medicaid Recipients Before Dropping Coverage

Maureen Corcoran is sworn in as Ohio Medicaid director by Gov. Mike DeWine in January.
Ohio Medicaid
Maureen Corcoran is sworn in as Ohio Medicaid director by Gov. Mike DeWine in January.

Ohio residents who will face work requirements to continue receiving Medicaid health care coverage won't lose their benefits until after they have spoken to a caseworker, according to a proposed state plan.

And if case workers determine eligibility should be terminated, a review will be conducted to see if the person qualifies under a different category, Cleveland.com reported .

Ohio is awaiting approval from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for its proposed implementation plan. The agency granted Ohio permission in March to create work requirements, which are scheduled to take effect in January 2021.

State planning for the requirements began under former Gov. John Kasich and were finalized after his successor, Mike DeWine, took office in January.

"One of the things that (DeWine) was very specific about was making this kind of more individualized — contact with a person, not just cutting people off," Ohio Department of Medicaid director Maureen Corcoran said.

Work requirements apply for those who receive health benefits through the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion, which covers low-income adults with separate programs for pregnant women, infants, children, older adults and disabled people.

Nearly 110,000 people who qualified for Medicaid under the expansion will have to get a job, increase their work hours or qualify for an exemption to maintain coverage.

Around 250,000 residents who receive benefits under the expansion are already working. Another 250,000 won't face work requirements because they qualify under one or more exemption.

Beneficiaries who fall under the requirements must work a minimum of 20 hours a week, or 80 hours a month, according to Ohio's proposed plan.

Critics say Ohio's work requirements are less onerous than other states but argue they will result in more people losing access to health insurance.

Loren Anthes, a public policy fellow at the Center for Community Solutions, a non-partisan think tank in Cleveland, said DeWine's administration deserves credit for acknowledging the challenges that work requirements present.

"But at the same time, there's a fundamental question: If we all know and acknowledge the system isn't ideally designed, it has challenges in maintaining people's coverage, why are we trying to make that challenge more complex?" Anthes said.