HHS Secretary Says Department Won't Approve Programs that Limit Access to Medicaid

[photo: Michelle Faust/ ideastream]
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by Michelle Faust

This week, Ohio submitted a plan to the federal government that would restructure Medicaid in the state. At an event Thursday, ideastream asked the nation’s top healthcare advisor whether changes to the Healthy Ohio program are in line with the goals of the Affordable Care Act.

Ohio wants to charge its low-income residents a premium for access to healthcare. Medicaid recipients making more than zero, but less than 138 percent of the federal poverty limit, would have to contribute 2 percent of their income to a health savings account, capped at $8.25 a month.

U-S Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell was in Cleveland just days after the plan was submitted for federal review. She wouldn’t say whether her agency would ok Ohio’s proposal, but Burwell notes HHS won’t approve a plan that causes residents to lose access to health insurance.

“And so as we review this proposal that is before us, what are basics are at its highest level is we want to go forward not backwards and how do we think about measuring that making that specific. If we're taking steps that reduce affordability or reduce access those aren’t things that we will approve,” says Burwell.

Opponents say the plan will hurt the number of Medicaid-insured Ohioans.

Those in favor say cost sharing could amount to a savings for the state.

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