Kasich Medicaid expansion would improve mental illness care

Advocates for the mentally ill say they welcome a side effect of Gov. John Kasich’s proposal to expand Medicaid dollars: More money to treat people with mental illness.
Tom Jackson
Feb 22, 2013

Kasich has proposed accepting federal money to expand Medicaid to cover more people. If the Ohio General Assembly approves the plan — at least some Republicans have expressed skepticism — Medicaid eligibility would be enlarged to accept people at up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. In addition, single men and women who don’t have children would also become eligible.

“This will basically cover people who had no coverage at all in the past, including men who were not custodial fathers of minor children,” said Kirk Halliday, executive director of the Mental Health and Recovery Board of Erie and Ottawa Counties.

“The Medicaid expansion would be a real bonus,” said Cheri Walter, CEO of the Ohio Association of Community Behavioral Health Authorities, which represents agencies such as Halliday’s. “If the Medicaid expansion goes through, it will really put more money into our system than we’ve had in a very long time.”

The governor’s proposal would add an estimated 505,000 Ohioans to the Medicaid rolls, said Robert Runyon, president of the Ohio Association of Community Health Centers. About 2 million Ohioans are now covered by Medicaid.

Agencies that have a mental health levy would be able to free up money spent on newly eligible patients, providing services that Medicaid doesn’t cover, Runyon said.

Walter said one interesting proposal in the governor’s budget is to move people with mental health problems out of nursing homes into other residential settings.

“We’re all trying to figure out exactly how that will work,” Walter said. “It’s something that will allow for additional folks to get housing services.”

The Mental Health and Recovery Board of Erie and Ottawa Counties operates a residential living center, Beacon House, on Venice Road in west Sandusky, which can house about a dozen people.

“People need residences in a whole range of levels of independence,” Halliday said.

Kasich also wants to merge two government agencies, the Department of Mental Health and the Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services, into one agency. The merger would take place this summer.

The merger makes sense, because there is a large overlap between people with chronic mental health issues and people with substance abuse issues, Halliday said.

The two groups overlap as much as 70 percent, he said.

Comments

The Big Dog's back

Good. Maybe they can find a cure for right wingism.

Pete

The only cure for liberalism is a full frontal labotomy.

happyfeet64

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Personal attacks (including: name calling, presumption of guilt or guilt by association, insensitivity, or picking fights).

Contango

Billions of "free" money from the Feds laying on the table and Gov. Kasich is pickin' it up.

The Federal Reserve - print as needed.

Pres. Obama: Come follow me; we can be like Greece.

Licorice Schtick

This is just a pitch for his sales tax increase. They'll promise you roses, blue skies, and chirping birds if you just let them push the tax burden down to those with the lowest incomes and let the wealthy keep everything.

The Big Dog's back

Exactly.

arnmcrmn

Funny because the article reads that the money will be coming from the Fed, whos tax bill is MAINLY paid for by these so called rich people. What more do you people want....oh let me guess, more handouts and more of someone elses hard earned cash. Morons.