When the Ohio legislature reconvenes, presumably in September, the issue of Medicaid expansion must be at the top of its agenda.
Although most of the Republican legislators either oppose the expansion of Medicaid or our skeptical of its long-term effects, Gov. John Kasich, himself a Republican and a fiscal conservative at that, favors it and for good reason we think, despite its being part of the Obamacare package that the GOP wants to derail.
Two studies, one published by the Urban Institute, the other by the Health Policy Institute, indicate the expansion, so long as the federal government fulfills its promise to pick up 90 percent of the cost, will have a positive effect on the state's budget to the turn of $1. 8 billion or more. The studies indicate the influx of cash to Ohio will result in the creation of 23,000 to 28,000 jobs in health care and other industries and an increase in earning by Ohio residents of between $16.7 billion and $17.5 billion. An increase in total economic activity in Ohio of between $18.6 billion and $19.8 billion is projected.
The effect on Ohio's 88 counties is projected to be positive too, with a drop in the numbers of their uninsured, an increase in tax revenue and an increase in employment because of a Medicaid expansion. Without the Medicaid expansion, none of these will be realized. The upshot of Medicaid not being expanded is these Ohio's counties, these studies say, will see no drop in their uninsured populations ranging from 2 to 12 percent by 2022, no increase sales tax revenues that statewide would total between $364 million and $387 million, and no projected increase in employment ranging from more than 4 per 1,000 people to almost 9 per 1,000.
The Urban Institute study adds that the Medicaid expansion will overall cut medical cost for Ohio's employers and consumers. Although costs will increase, the net revenues supporting the expansion appear to create a net surplus, the study indicates.
The findings of these studies run counter to the warning of some who talk of higher premiums. The trouble is the people talking about higher premiums do not include the credits that will in sum lower the cost of the premiums to the uninsured.
We think a genuine debate in the Ohio legislature would be enlightening, particularly if the rhetoric sticks to the facts.
We also think the evidence to date supports Gov. Kasich who favors the expansion of Medicaid in Ohio.