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Q & A: Impact of the health care overhaul in Ohio


COLUMBUS — State officials have noted their continued misgivings about President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, while taking steps to tailor the law for Ohioans.

New insurance markets called exchanges will open this fall in each state. Ohio has opted for a so-called partnership with the federal government to run the exchange. Republican Gov. John Kasich has yet to decide on another key part of the law — whether to expand the Medicaid coverage to more low-income people. He's expected to make his plans known on the expansion when he unveils the state budget next month.

Some questions and answers on where the health care law stands in Ohio:

Q: How many people are uninsured in Ohio, and how many of those are projected to get insurance under the exchange?

A: More than 1.5 million Ohio residents are uninsured, or about 14 percent. A report prepared for the Ohio Department of Insurance by consulting firm Milliman Inc. estimated that 524,000 Ohioans would be enrolled in the exchange designed for individuals by 2017.

Q: How many people in Ohio does Medicaid currently serve, and how many more would be served if Ohio opts to expand Medicaid?

A: Medicaid currently covers roughly 2.3 million low-income and disabled people in Ohio. And about 456,000 uninsured Ohioans would gain health care coverage by 2022 under the expansion, according to a study from the Health Policy Institute of Ohio, a nonpartisan policy organization.

Q: How many small businesses are likely to take advantage of the health insurance offered on the exchange?

A: The Milliman report offered two ranges of estimates for people that could be covered through small group enrollment: a low enrollment range of 30,000 to 70,000 people; and a higher enrollment scenario of 100,000 to 170,000 Ohioans by 2017.

Q: How is the exchange going to be set up in Ohio and which agency will be responsible for overseeing it?

A: Ohio won't set up its own health insurance exchange but is instead opting for a so-called partnership with the federal government to run the new insurance market. Under the proposal, the Ohio Department of Insurance would continue to regulate health plans on or off the exchange and the state would make decisions around Medicaid eligibility. But the federal government would operate the exchange and be responsible for overseeing it.

Q: How far along is the exchange in Ohio?

A: Kasich has notified federal officials of Ohio's plan not to run its own exchange and proceed with a federal-state partnership. The administration has yet to receive conditional approval from federal officials on its plan, as state officials expect to submit additional details for the proposal by mid-February.

Q: How much money has the state received so far from the federal government to do the initial work in setting up an exchange?

A: Ohio received a $1 million federal exchange planning grant in 2010, under the previous Democratic administration. The state has neither applied for nor received additional funding since Kasich took office at the beginning of 2011.

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