The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services announced this week that the state will become the 18th in the U.S. to make it easier for poor children and pregnant women to immediately enroll in Medicaid (Source: “Medicaid access made easier,” Columbus Dispatch, June 6, 2012).
According to Ohio Medicaid Director John McCarthy, the state will expand what is known as “presumptive eligibility” to clinics and hospitals statewide in about six months. Under the plan, providers will be authorized to briefly screen patients and immediately grant Medicaid eligibility for 60 days. To stay enrolled beyond the 60 days, recepients would have to submit a traditional application at a county job and family services department. The application process typically takes about 45 days.
In other states that have adopted presumptive eligibility, only 1 to 3 percent of those initially granted Medicaid benefits were later determined to be ineligible. “As a conservative Republican, that’s a risk worth taking,” said Ohio Sen. Dave Burke of Marysville. “If a woman comes into an office and says she’s pregnant and can’t afford services, I think that’s a risk worth taking. ... I think that’s a good investment for the state, and it leads to productive children that go to school and get educated and become productive Ohioans.”