June 28, 2017
The Honorable John Kasich
Riffe Center, 30th Floor
77 South High Street
Columbus, Ohio 43215-6117
RE: HB 49, Medicaid Expansion Freeze
Dear Governor Kasich:
The Ohio Nurses Association (ONA) is the recognized leader and advocate for professional nursing in the state of Ohio and serves as the leading voice for all of Ohio’s 200,000 registered nurses. ONA has been vocal in calling attention to the positive impact that our Medicaid expansion has had on health care in Ohio. To this end, ONA does not support the provisions included within House Bill 49- Biennial Budget and the potential freeze on new enrollment in the Medicaid expansion population. We respectfully request line item veto on any language that impedes the ability for people to gain access to Medicaid through the expansion. Here are ONA’s top three concerns with a Medicaid expansion freeze:
- It impacts our ability to address the opioid crisis through treatment services.
- It has a catastrophic financial impact on our healthcare system, especially within our rural communities.
- It increases the number of uninsured patients who only seek care when they are sick. When this happens, they show up sicker, which leads to more expensive and less effective treatments.
The biennial budget language would freeze Medicaid expansion enrollment beginning in July of 2018 and would leave Ohioans without the healthcare coverage they need. This expansion has provided coverage to over 650,000 citizens in our state, including 200,000 who receive services to address opioid addiction care and treatment. Additionally, the expansion of Medicaid supports our rural hospitals and communities by reducing the uncompensated care that challenges their financial stability. These rural hospitals must be reimbursed to ensure they can continue to provide access to care in their areas.
The people in Ohio communities are trying desperately to deal with opioid addiction and cutting Medicaid in 2018 would tragically impact the care being provided. If Ohio eliminates the funding that helps fight the opioid crisis, we are essentially giving up on our neighbors, family members and communities and removing the essential tools needed to fight this epidemic. Medicaid protects the health and wellbeing of Ohio’s mentally ill, poor, aging, recovering addicts, and our veterans. The health and longevity of our communities rely on safeguarding Ohio’s most vulnerable; we cannot protect Ohioans if we take away the healthcare coverage they so desperately need.
Lori Chovanak, MN, APRN-BC Sally Morgan, MS, RN, ANP-BC, GNP-BC
Chief Executive Officer President