By Jason Hart | Ohio Watchdog
Ohio’s Obamacare Medicaid numbers keep growing, reaching 401,307 in September, according to the Ohio Department of Medicaid’s latest caseload report.
Including Ohioans added retroactively, August enrollment was revised to 392,253 from the 367,395 reported last month. September enrollment in the Obamacare expansion was 12 percent higher than state officials expected, while revised August enrollment exceeded projections by 10 percent.
July enrollment, first reported as 338,707 and revised to 358,929 in last month’s report, was revised again to 376,156 — higher than the July 2015 enrollment projected by Gov. John Kasich.
Based on an Oct. 16 Ohio Joint Medicaid Oversight Committee estimate pegging costs per member per month at $630 for the 2015 fiscal year, Ohio’s Obamacare expansion ran $63.7 million over budget from July to September. Obamacare expansion in Ohio cost more than $250 million in September alone, and has set federal taxpayers back $1.7 billion since January.
Meanwhile the “woodwork” effect, a term for signups by those previously eligible and seeking to avoid Obamacare penalties, has resulted in less enrollment than the state expected. Prior to the Obamacare expansion, Medicaid was restricted to the elderly, physically disabled, pregnant women, children and low-income parents.
Detailed data regarding enrollment under the Obamacare expansion haven’t been released, but the left-leaning Urban Institute projected 90 percent of uninsured Ohioans newly eligible for Medicaid would be able-bodied adults without dependent children.
Expanding Medicaid from a targeted entitlement program to one based on income alone was a key component of Obamacare when the law passed in 2010. President Obama has pointed to Ohio’s implementation of Medicaid expansion as proof of his unpopular health insurance law’s success.
“Ohio’s ObamaCare expansion continues to run over budget, which will ultimately put Ohio’s most vulnerable citizens at risk,” Jonathan Ingram, director of research at the free-market Foundation for Government Accountability, told Ohio Watchdog via email. “When it comes time to pay for those cost overruns and the state’s share of ObamaCare costs, who will Gov. Kasich put on the chopping block first?”
“While more than 40,000 children and adults with developmental disabilities have been languishing on Medicaid waiting lists for years, Gov. Kasich is bragging about enrolling able-bodied childless adults and ex-convicts in Medicaid,” Ingram added.
“It’s time for the legislature to put a stop to Kasich’s unilateral ObamaCare expansion, before it’s forced to make the kinds of devastating cuts we’ve seen time and again in other expansion states. Those states have been forced to cut treatment for late stage cancers and life-saving organ transplants, all to protect a new entitlement for able-bodied adults.”
A 2012 U.S. Supreme Court decision made the Obamacare expansion optional for states, but Kasich expanded Medicaid unilaterally in 2013 after vetoing a ban on expansion passed by both houses of the Ohio General Assembly.
Kasich, a Republican, warned Ohio’s failure to expand Medicaid would “send our tax dollars to another state to be spent,” assuring Ohioans the new federal spending for Medicaid expansion was actually “Ohio’s tax dollars.”
Federal taxpayers are currently on the hook for 100 percent of Medicaid enrollment costs for those newly eligible under Obamacare, a matching rate set to drop to 90 percent by 2020 and remain at 90 percent thereafter. Assuming the federal match isn’t reduced, Ohio’s Obamacare expansion is projected to cost the state $600 million per year by 2022.
With the national debt fast approaching $18 trillion, members of Congress and even Obama have proposed cutting the federal matching rate for the Obamacare Medicaid expansion.