Early Voting Begins, And Requiring Premiums From Medicaid Recipients Draws Fire

The March 15 primary is underway with the start of early voting this week. The leaders in the Democratic presidential contest - Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders - will be at the annual Legacy Dinner on Sunday, March 13. A lawmaker says he wants to protect students of all faiths with a bill that would put freedom of religious expression in schools into state law. Another bill under consideration would give townships the power to make laws to require sidewalks to be shoveled. Two employees have been fired by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and a third has been demoted over their handling of lead contamination in a Mahoning County village's drinking water.

At around $3 billion in funding, Medicaid is the biggest thing in the state budget. Since Medicaid expansion, 650,000 Ohioans have enrolled, bringing to just under three million the number of Ohioans who are on Medicaid. Lawmakers put into the last budget a plan to demand small premiums from about a million non-disabled recipients as part of their participation in the program. And if premiums are two months late, coverage would be suspended unless the recipient is pregnant. But none of this goes forward without a waiver from the federal government to allow the state to charge these premiums and make changes to the Medicaid program. Talking about the pros and cons of this plan are two experts in Medicaid. John Corlett was the state Medicaid director under Democratic former Gov. Ted Strickland – he is now the president and executive director of the Center for Community Solutions, a research organization headquartered in Cleveland.  Greg Lawson writes extensively about Medicaid as the Statehouse Liaison and Policy Analyst at the Buckeye Institute, which describes itself as a free market think tank.

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