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Published: Tuesday, 12/10/2013


Newly eligible Ohioans can begin applying for coverage

Vote to enroll 275,000 challenged in top court


COLUMBUS — Ohio has begun accepting applications from those newly eligible for the federal-state health insurance of last resort.

The state, through an Ohio Controlling Board vote still being challenged before the Ohio Supreme Court, is expected to add a net 275,000 new enrollees to Medicaid with coverage to begin Jan. 1. It’s one of the options under the federal Affordable Care Act to cover uninsured Americans.

The federal government has promised to pick up all of the costs for the expansion for the first three years, with the reimbursement rate to gradually drop to 90 percent thereafter.

The expansion is expected to draw $13 billion in federal subsidies to Ohio over seven years.

Ohio became the 25th state to team up with the federal government to expand Medicaid eligibility in October.

Most of those added to the rolls are expected to be working adults without dependent children.

Those earning as much as 38 percent over the federal poverty level will be newly eligible for Medicaid coverage. That translates into $15,856 for an individual or $32,499 for a family of four.

Despite the Affordable Care Act’s unpopularity as a whole, expansion of the government-run Medicaid under it has proven popular in polls of Ohio voters. Republican Gov. John Kasich bucked conservative elements within his own party to pursue expansion, ultimately turning to the quasi-legislative controlling board to accept nearly $2.6 billion in federal funds when lawmakers would not act.

Applications are through benefits.ohio.gov. Applicants need Social Security numbers, birth dates, monthly income, and other information to apply.

The Ohio Web site is not connected with the federal online insurance exchange, healthcare.gov, through which other consumers can shop for coverage.

Contact Jim Provance at: jprovance@theblade.com or 614-221-0496.

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