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Sears to head Ohio Department of Medicaid

Appointment comes as the Kasich administration prepares its final 2-year budget proposal

COLUMBUS — Former Toledo area state representative Barbara Sears will be promoted by Gov. John Kasich next month to head the Ohio Department of Medicaid.

She will replace John McCarthy as he leaves state government to take a job in the private sector. Mr. McCarthy, previously medical director for the city of Washington, has been with the Kasich administration since the beginning in 2011.

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Barbara Sears

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Ms. Sears, a Monclova Township Republican, recently resigned from the Ohio House’s 47th House District seat representing Lucas County’s western suburbs and most of Fulton County to become assistant director of the Governor’s Office of Health Transformation.

Ms. Sears was an early champion of Mr. Kasich’s decision to partner with the federal Affordable Care Act to expand eligibility for Medicaid to hundreds of thousands of additional lower- and middle-income families.

She was term-limited and could not seek re-election to the House.

“She has consistently been someone who has shared my vision for health care and worked closely with our team to achieve it,” Mr. Kasich said. “She knows the health-care and insurance spaces very well and has outstanding relationships with the General Assembly.

“She has the right combination of expertise, temperament, and leadership ability to guide Medicaid forward, and I’m glad she’s agreed to take up this responsibility,” he said.

Ms. Sears’ appointment comes as the Kasich administration prepares its final two-year budget proposal that is expect to attempt more reductions in Medicaid costs, which are shared by the state and federal governments.

The recent election of Republican Donald Trump and his vow to repeal and replace Obamacare leave the long-term future of Ohio’s Medicaid expansion in doubt. Currently, the federal government pays all of the costs for the expansion population, but the state will have to begin picking up 5 percent of the tab with the start of 2017.

The Kasich administration noted that Medicaid reforms have saved the state more than $3 billion and annual spending growth in the program has slowed to 3.3 percent.

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