Governor Addresses Health Care Needs in State of the State
Governor Strickland presented his State of the State address on Jan 28 at a very snowy statehouse. While much of his address focused on education reform and the economy, he did make some references to health care, including efforts to expand access to care in the state. Among his health care comments include:
"We will strengthen Ohio by expanding access to health care coverage.
We have finally gained federal approval to offer coverage to Ohio children from families with incomes up to 300 percent of the poverty line. With funding provided in this budget, we will soon be able to say that health care coverage is available to every child in Ohio.
At the same time, we are taking innovative steps to expand health care access for adult Ohioans. Ohioans with employer-provided insurance will be able to buy coverage for their dependents up to the age of 29. Small business employees who lose their jobs will be able to purchase continuation coverage for up to 12 months. We will reform the open enrollment program to provide more affordable options for people who have pre-existing health conditions. And, we will allow more uninsured workers to purchase health care coverage with pre-tax dollars. Taken together, these steps will bring more than 110,000 adult Ohioans under the protection of health care coverage.
We will also provide more choices to Ohioans in need of long term care. People want care in the least restrictive environment possible. But state policies have almost pushed seniors and the disabled out the door of their homes and away from their communities.
With a unified long-term care budget, we begin to balance services and funding, allowing our elderly and disabled Ohioans more choices."
Please note that the Governor outlines expansion of Medicaid for children coming from families with incomes up to 300% of poverty, expansion of commercial insurance to young adults up to 29 who can remain on their parents policies, individual health plans purchased with pre-tax dollars and the implementation of the Unified Long Term Care Budget to provide more choice for Ohio's older adults and their families as the major health care issues his administration will be working on in the upcoming months.
The Governor wants to assure that all children have access to affordable health care and more options for adults and seniors are available so individuals can receive appropriate care in the most cost effective environment.
On February 2nd, the Biennium Budget will be released and we will have an opportunity to review the Governor's Blue Book which outlines the budgets for the various state agencies. Somewhere around Feb. 16th, the budget bill will be introduced and deliberations will begin the House Finance Committee. The OAASC will keep you informed throughout the budget process and what impact the federal stimulus will have on Ohio. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact OAASC's Mike Carroll at (614) 358-0177.