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House, Senate unveil Medicaid bills

COOLUMBUS, Ohio – Lawmakers in the Statehouse, having stripped the state budget proposal of Medicaid reform, take on the health care program with their own ideas.

Companion bills were introduced in the House and Senate on Thursday seeking to control spending and costs and the quality of care while also improving accountability, according to supporters from both parties.

“We have two objectives: to bend the cost curve down without reducing the services people currently receive, and to help move more citizens up and out of poverty through workforce readiness and the removal of barriers,” said Rep. Ron Amstutz (R-Wooster), co-sponsor of the House version with Akron Democrat Vernon Sykes.

There is no mention of the Medicaid expansion proposed by Gov. John Kasich and quashed by House Republicans, but leaders from both parties are getting behind the alternative measures, if grudgingly in some cases.

“The legislation is a good start, but only a start.  We should seize the opportunity now to encourage workforce development, protect Ohio businesses and provide health coverage to more Ohioans,” said Senate Minority Leader Eric Kearney (D-Cincinnati).

“My colleagues in the General Assembly take very seriously the need to assist struggling Ohioans with basic services that provide a hand up rather than a hand out,” said Senate President Keith Faber (R–Celina).

The Senate version aims to reduce health care costs and define performance metrics that create accountability, co-sponsors Dave Burke (R–Marysville) and Capri Cafaro (D–Hubbard) say.

“I believe it’s possible to achieve our objectives and bring true reform to Medicaid that is cost-effective and outcome driven. This bill will enable us to determine what that looks like,” said Burke.

“The goal is to make sustainable reforms that improve health outcomes that contain costs and hold all parties involved accountable to continued health care and workforce innovation,” Caparo said.

The bill’s supporters are painting them as an attempt to improve access to affordable health care for Ohioans while minimizing costs and maximizing the benefit to taxpayers.

“The proposals that were put forth by the House and Senate today are a good starting point, but there is a lot of work to be done on this issue and conversations will be ongoing,” Amstutz said.

The bills establish spending targets and performance measures that focus on results.

They remove legislative mandates that the bills’ backers claim stifle innovation and flexibility, and eliminate statutory regulations that impede the cost-effective delivery of health care, Faber said.

The measures also call for streamlining the involvement of the General Assembly in caseload, greater investment in research and evaluation for Medicaid and the entire health care system and increased consumer involvement in the delivery of services.

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