Thursday, January 2, 2014 at 4:30 PM
An unusual program run by Cuyahoga County’s MetroHealth System to provide health insurance for the poor has won a federal extension for a few months. ideastream health reporter Sarah Jane Tribble explains.
MetroHealth says it will continue offering health insurance coverage to people who have yet to apply for Medicaid through the state expansion.
John Corlett, who is vice president of government relations and community affairs at the hospital, says nearly 30,000 people have enrolled in the program.
“This is important for these patients because otherwise they would have lost their coverage as of Dec. 31,” Corlett says.
MetroHealth became the only hospital in Ohio – and one of just a few nationwide - to offer Medicaid early last year to people who earn up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, which is about $23,500 for a family of four.
Now that the state is expanding Medicaid, MetroHealth is no longer accepting new applicants in its program but will continue to provide coverage for those enrolled until they can be transferred onto a state Medicaid plan.
Corlett says the millions in Cuyahoga County taxpayer dollars that are used to pay for the local coverage now will continue to be needed.
The year “2014 is going to be a year of transition for us in terms of how many uninsured patients do we end up with under this new system. How many folks will move onto Medicaid. How many folks will obtain coverage through the exchange. I think even the best predictions at a state or federal level will still predict that thousands of people will still lack health insurance,” Corlett says.
MetroHealth’s special waiver program will officially end April 30.
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