State approves Ohio Medicaid funding to pay program’s bills

COLUMBUS (WYTV) – There are 3 million people using Medicaid in Ohio. On Monday, the state requested that the Controlling Board release $264 million of the money set aside in the budget so the program could pay its bills through the end of the fiscal year.

This is a new step for the program added in the last budget. Now when it comes time to make sure there is enough money in the bank, the director of the program and Tim Keen, the director of the Office of Budget and Management, have to come ask for the money that has already been promised.

Technically, they can be denied. Believe it or not, there are people who would actually deny their request for money already agreed upon.

Republican State Senator William Coley, II doesn’t think the expanded Medicaid program can survive under its own weight and was prepared to deny the request.

That is until he asked the directors about work that was being put together on waivers.

“We’ve got to get more people rowing the boat instead of just sitting in the boat,” Coley said.

One of the waivers he is referring to would require some Medicaid recipients have a job in order to receive the benefit.

Ultimately, it would have taken several members of the board to oppose the request in order to get it to fail.

Some members asked the directors to explain what would happen if they chose to deny the request.

They were told one of two things could happen — either Medicaid payments could be slashed up around 16 percent to providers or things would remain as they are now until the money ran out and then no one would get paid.

The directors intimated the latter option was the more likely one.

But while this appeared to be a high stakes game of political chicken, some wonder if it really was one or if it was all just bluster.

In the end, the board unanimously approved the request and 3 million people can now rest easy knowing their health care will be taken care of through next June.

“Provided that the economy performs as we expect — which is, of course, has a dramatic effect on the Medicaid program — this is sufficient money to pay the program costs as we have projected them,” Keen said.

Meanwhile, work on the waivers continue and this can all be set aside until the next time they have to request to access the money already set aside for the program — some $310 million.

According to Keen, right now, costs are coming in right on budget.