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2018 was a big election year in Ohio. Republicans held onto all five statewide executive offices including governor and super majorities in both the Ohio House and Senate. But there were a few bright spots for Democrats, among them the reelection of U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown and the election of two Democrats to the Ohio Supreme Court.With election 2018 over, the focus now shifts to governing. Stay connected with the latest on politics, policies and people making the decisions at all levels affecting your lives.

Candidates for Ohio Governor Continue Debate Over Who Is Covered Under Medicaid Expansion

photo of Ohio Department of Medicaid
Democrats say that Medicaid expansion benefits children, but Ohio Secretary of State and Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, John Husted, claims that no children are covered under it.

The debate over how the major party candidates for governor feel about Medicaid expansion launched into an examination of exactly who are the 700,000 Ohioans in that expansion population and who are not included.

Ohio Attorney General and Republican gubernatorial candidate Mike DeWine and his runningmate, Secretary of State John Husted, support keeping Medicaid expansion for all 700,000 Ohioans, with the addition of work requirements and wellness programs.

“The people eligible for Medicaid expansion are adults who earn up to 138% of [the] poverty [level]. There are no children covered under Medicaid expansion,” Husted said.

And that’s true. Husted made that statement after a claim by Democrats that thousands of children would lose health care coverage if Medicaid expansion were rolled back or shut down.

Democrats walked back that claim.

“If you start taking health care away from 700,000 Ohioans, it’s going affect children," said Richard Cordray, the Democratic candidate for governor, about changing Medicaid expansion. "It’s going to affect families. Iit’s going to distract people from being able to manage their health care problems because now they have a financial problem on top of it.”

And depending on the changes, that is potentially true as well, said John Corlett, the state’s former Medicaid director under former Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland. Corlett is now the head of the Center for Community Solutions in Cleveland.

“About 14 percent of the individuals who are covered under Ohio’s Medicaid expansion are parents or caretakers. It’s about 95,000 people who fit into that category,” he said.

Corlett said parents and caregivers are part of the group because of how the Affordable Care Act allowed for the expansion of Medicaid.

“Prior to the expansion, parents were only covered up to 90% of the federal poverty level in Ohio. And so with the expansion, that coverage extended to 138% of the federal poverty level. So it’s that group – from 90% to 138% - who are now covered through the expansion,” he said.

The Ohio Department of Medicaid confirmed Corlett’s statement that thousands of parents and caregivers are covered by Medicaid expansion, but also notes that pregnant women are not. They’re covered by Medicaid under another category.