Lawmakers Head Home For Now, And A Major Medicaid Change Hits This Weekend

Lawmakers took another whack at the pile of bills that stacked up during the seven-week House Speaker saga, before they headed home for a rest and campaign break. Statehouse correspondent Andy Chow has details.

On Sunday, the state officially moves providers of behavioral health services for low-income Ohioans into Medicaid managed care. That’s a huge change for how they get paid for providing addiction and mental illness treatment, family counseling and other services. And these last few days are causing lots of worry for some of those providers. Greg Moody directs the state’s Office of Health Transformation, which oversees Medicaid and other programs. He says this change started in January, when the state added more than a hundred new billing codes to try to be more accurate in paying claims. But a coalition of 150 providers who do about 70 percent of this work have said they’re concerned about this major change. Lori Criss speaks for this group, the Ohio Council of Behavioral Health and Family Services Providers.

Another hot topic with Medicaid is work requirements that Ohio and other states want to impose on Medicaid recipients. As required in the current budget, the Kasich administration has applied for permission from the federal government to require those receiving Medicaid to work 80 hours a month, or be looking for work, be in an educational, volunteer or addiction treatment program, or be taking care of a family member. The progressive think tank Policy Matters Ohio estimates that more than 300,000 Ohioans could lose their Medicaid coverage if the work requirement is imposed. Kentucky and Michigan are already in the process of implementing work requirements, which Indiana won federal approval to do earlier this year. Pennsylvania is considering it, and West Virginia’s governor is now reconsidering his rejection of those requirements. All of those states expanded Medicaid, as Ohio did. The idea is controversial - as evident in a conversation from January with researchers with two different perspectives.

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