Several years ago, local hospitals created Toledo/Lucas County CareNet, which has been a godsend for able-bodied working people who lacked access to health insurance but did not qualify for Medicaid. Unfortunately, the Ohio House of Representatives, by rejecting Gov. John Kasich’s proposed Medicaid expansion, is threatening the viability of both CareNet and Ohio’s hospital system (“Kasich’s budget gets another shot; Senate could restore Medicaid, tax plans stripped by House,” April 20). We must hope the Ohio Senate takes a different view.
The Affordable Care Act builds on the CareNet model. It expands Medicaid to cover low-income working people but reduces Disproportionate Share Hospital funding. Like CareNet, the expansion provides access to primary and preventive care for the uninsured. Unlike the expansion, DSH cuts are mandatory.
Without Medicaid expansion, Ohio hospitals cannot replace lost DSH funds. Cutting the funding to meet the obligation to treat any patient who comes to the emergency room jeopardizes the solvency of the entire hospital system. This is especially true in rural communities, where emergency departments are harder to staff.
Ohio lawmakers ought to think about expanding Medicaid as building upon the success of CareNet, not endorsing Obamacare. Expanding Medicaid will strengthen our work force, our hospital system, and our communities. It is the humane thing to do.
W. DAVID KOENINGER
Chairman Health care and public benefits practice group Advocates for Basic Legal Equality Inc.