Medicaid Recipients Say Ohio’s Benefit System Needs Work | Health


Ohio’s Medicaid program, which provides health insurance to more than 2.8 million low-income residents, isn’t working for everyone, according to a recent survey.

The system is not easily accessed online and wait times are long, said Jessie Herzfeld, a freelance artist who collects Medicaid benefits and participated in the study.

“Everything, every year has been really frustrating and stressful,” Herzfeld said.

But this year has been particularly difficult for Herzfeld and many others. The COVID-19 pandemic has closed offices, leaving beneficiaries with fewer options to speak with staff.

Wait times are a common complaint, but people are generally patient with the system, said Hope Lane, policy associate at the Center for Community Solutions in Cleveland, one of the organizations involved in the investigation.

However, often after waiting an hour or more, benefit recipients encounter rude staff and reinforce the stigma associated with Medicaid, Lane said.

“People on the phone, you can’t see them, so they feel more, I guess, empowered to be rude,” Lane said.

The survey was conducted to help bring about changes within the legislature and ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent in a system that works best for the people of Ohio, she said. .

Medicaid enrollments in Ohio were stable at the start of 2020, but after March they started to climb – in Cuyahoga County alone, beneficiaries jumped from around 382,000 in March to 415,000 in October. The rise is due to the fact that so many people lost their jobs during the pandemic, said Loren Anthes, director of Medicaid policy at the Center for Community Solutions.

“A lot of people have lost their employer sponsored coverage, or they may not have been able to maintain the same hours, so Medicaid has been that support for them so that they can maintain continuity with their physicians. , being able to afford prescriptions, that sort of thing, ”he said.

Medicaid has helped the hospital industry because it allows payments even when patients have lost health insurance through their employer, Anthes said.

Hospitals are generally considered recession-resistant, but the economic downturn caused by coronaviruses has also hurt hospitals, especially with cuts in elective surgeries and other services unrelated to the fight against COVID-19.


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