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Ohio Medicaid work requirements, planned to begin Jan. 1, on hold

The Plain Dealer  Cleveland logo The Plain Dealer Cleveland 10/1/2020 By Laura Hancock,

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Plans to require Ohio Medicaid recipients to work 20 hours a week have been delayed because of the coronavirus outbreak.

“Until the pandemic is ended, we are not allowed to make a change in our program like that,” said Maureen Corcoran, director of the Ohio Department of Medicaid. “Or to terminate people.”

As part of the federal CARES Act coronavirus funding that Congress passed in March, state Medicaid agencies are receiving more money to fight the outbreak, said John Corlett, president of the Cleveland health care think tank the Center for Community Solutions and a former state Medicaid director.

“In return for that you can’t reduce eligibility for any category,” said Corlett.

Specifically, states can’t begin new programs that could kick people off Medicaid rolls – which could happen with Ohio’s work requirements if people don’t comply. However, Medicaid enrollees can continue to be dropped from their benefits if they go to prison, for instance, or undergo any other life change that would normally disqualify them from the program, he said.

Medicaid is a joint state-federal government program for low-income people and those with health conditions, such as certain disabilities, that now covers just over 3 million Ohioans.

The Ohio General Assembly is controlled by Republicans, many of whom disagreed with the state’s decision to expand Medicaid in 2014 under the Affordable Care Act. In 2017, they inserted into the budget bill a provision that the state must implement work requirements.

In March 2019, the administration of President Donald Trump approved a work requirement plan submitted by Ohio.

But federal officials still haven’t approved an implementation plan – which the state submitted last year that outlines the specifics of what the work requirements will look like, Corcoran said. Federal officials will need to OK another state plan that evaluates the effectiveness of work requirements, she said.

Reviews by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services “slow down at the end of a presidential term,” Corlett said. “They don’t know who will be president come January.”

An administration under Joe Biden may prohibit it work requirements, or have different expectations of state work requirement programs.

It’s unclear when the federal emergency order associated with the coronavirus pandemic will end. The Trump administration last renewed the 90-day emergency July 25. It could expire later this month. Or it could be renewed. Congress could also require an extension, Corlett said.

State Medicaid agencies are prohibited from dramatically changing their programs for 90 days after the federal emergency ends.

“They want to give states some notice of when this enhanced federal funding is going to end,” Corlett said.

Other coverage:

Ohio’s minimum wage workers to see a 10-cent per hour increase

People arriving in Ohio advised to self-quarantine from 7 states with the highest positivity rates

1,080 new coronavirus cases in Ohio: Wednesday report

Ohio Supreme Court unanimously upholds felony murder conviction in death of 5-year-old Ta’Naejah McCloud

Ohio officials detected coronavirus in Akron, Mansfield, Oregon and prison sewage before cases ticked up

Local prosecutor quickly shoots down state rep’s attempt to bring criminal charges against Gov. Mike DeWine for coronavirus orders

Ohio liquor commission has punished bars and restaurants for COVID-19 violations. Here’s a list of decided cases since the pandemic began.


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