Who's Actually Covered Under Ohio's Medicaid Expansion?

Jul 23, 2018

Ohio’s governor race has put a spotlight on Medicaid expansion, which provides health insurance for some 700,000 Ohioans. Now the debate as turned to who’s actually in that population.

Secretary of State Jon Husted, who’s running for lieutenant governor, said the Republican ticket now supports keeping Medicaid expansion but wants to add work requirements and wellness programs.

“The people eligible for Medicaid expansion are adults who earn up to 138 percent of poverty [level],” Husted said. “There are no children covered under Medicaid expansion.”

And that’s true. Husted made that statement after a claim by Democrats that thousands of children would lose health care coverage if Medicaid expansion were rolled back or shut down.

Democrats walked back that claim, but Democratic gubernatorial candidate Richard Cordray said there’s still reason for concern.

“If you start taking health care away from 700,000 Ohioans, it’s going affect children, it’s going to affect families, it’s going to distract people from being able to manage their health care problems because now they have a financial problem on top of it,” Cordray said.

And depending on the changes, that is potentially true as well, according to John Corlett, the state’s former Medicaid director under Democratic governor Ted Strickland. Corlett now works as the head of the Center for Community Solutions in Cleveland.

“About 14 percent of the individuals who are covered under Ohio’s Medicaid expansion are parents or caretakers,” Corlett says. “It’s about 95,000 people who fit into that category.”

Corlett said parents and caregivers are part of the group because of how the Affordable Care Act allowed for the expansion of Medicaid.

“Prior to the expansion, parents were only covered up to 90 percent of the federal poverty level in Ohio,” he says. “And so with the expansion, that coverage extended to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. So it’s that group – from 90 percent to 138 percent - who are now covered through the expansion.”

The Ohio Department of Medicaid confirms Corlett’s statement that thousands of parents and caregivers are covered by Medicaid expansion, but also notes that pregnant women are not – they’re covered by Medicaid under another category.