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Published: Saturday, 3/23/2013

Ohio OKs Paramount expansion

Advantage to offer Medicaid coverage in all 88 counties

BY JON CHAVEZ
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

Paramount Advantage, a managed health-care provider that serves Medicaid recipients in northwest Ohio, has been approved to offer its coverage to all counties in Ohio.

The company, a subsidiary of Paramount Health Care of Maumee, was one of just five Medicaid plans selected by the state for expansion. The firm received approval on Feb. 22.

Paramount Advantage serves nearly 100,000 Medicaid recipients in 18 counties. State-run Medicaid programs provide health insurance to people and families with low incomes and resources.

But the expansion could mean adding a potential 80,000 Medicaid recipients this year to its network. Because Paramount Advantage will now serve Medicaid recipients in all 88 counties, the provider also needs to expand its workforce and offices.

Paramount Health Care officials said they plan to open field offices in Cleveland, Columbus, and the Cincinnati/Dayton area.

The provider will hire about dozen staff members for each office, and it is in the process of adding 134 workers at its Maumee office to expand every aspect of its operations.

“The logistics of this are huge. We will be expanding staff at Maumee mainly for back-office functions, but we will also be opening three new field offices. We had to greatly expand our provider network across the state,” said Mark Moser, a spokesman for Paramount Health Care.

The state had eight regions with limited managed care organizations serving each region, but in 2011 it decided to consolidate those regions to just three.

Mr. Moser said the general feeling was that the Ohio Medical Assistance office would be better served by administering Medicaid coverage with fewer providers and fewer regions.

In January, 2012, the state sent out a request for companies to apply to become statewide providers, and five were chosen out of 12 applicants.

Paramount Advantage and CareSource of Dayton were the only two Ohio providers selected. Both are nonprofits.

The other three providers chosen were out-of-state, for-profit firms United Healthcare, Molina Healthcare, and Buckeye Community Health Plan, a subsidiary of Centene Corp.

Mr. Moser said Paramount Advantage’s scores for quality, as graded by the state, were higher than the other applicants.

“It’s huge for us, because it kind of validates that we were able to compete with these big nationals for a slot and win one,” he said.

Eligible Medicaid patients will have until July 1 to choose one of the five providers. After that date recipients will be automatically enrolled in the state Medicaid program and a provider will be selected for them.

Paramount Advantage was created in 1993, after the state started privatizing Medicaid health coverage, in order to set up a network of services for use by members of Paramount’s Medicaid plan. Initially, the subsidiary had about 11,200 members and served just Lucas County.

It later expanded to include six other northwest Ohio counties and in 2005, under the state’s direction, expanded to cover 18 counties in the region and its current 100,000 Medicaid recipients.

Contact Jon Chavez at: jchavez@theblade.com or 419-724-6128.



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