February 26, 2020
By Alison Paxson
Ohio Legislative Children’s Caucus meeting brings light to challenges, opportunities facing lawmakers to ensure the health and wellness of our youngest Ohioans.
At the Ohio Legislative Children’s Caucus meeting, Promoting Whole Child Health and Wellness by Addressing the Growing Child Uninsured Rate, McGee, a featured panelist, touched on the stress she experienced attempting to navigate the Medicaid enrollment process for a loved one. Everyday practical challenges – such as understanding legal documents or waiting hours on the phone with Medicaid representatives – create significant barriers for families doing their best to ensure the well-being of themselves and their children.
Enhancing the readability of forms and notices that consumers receive seems simple, but this would have a positive effect on the accessibility of care and treatment for many families. This, along with other improvements to Ohio’s Medicaid system, could strengthen families, help them achieve greater financial security, reduce their stress levels, and keep children and parents healthy.
However, in just the last two years, according to a recent report by Georgetown University, child enrollment in Medicaid has fallen nearly 30% in Ohio. In fact, Ohio has experienced one of the largest declines in child health coverage in the nation. This would not be bad if these children were then covered under private insurance plans – however, that is not the case.
To address this issue, the Ohio Legislative Children’s Caucus convened on February 12th for an expert panel and discussion. The Ohio Legislative Children’s Caucus is a bipartisan, issues-based caucus focused on policies that will positively impact children and families. Over 25 legislative offices were attended the meeting to learn what Ohio and other states are doing to tackle this issue.
Using the Assessment of Child Health and Health Care in Ohio report and the 2019 Health Value Dashboard, HPIO’s Amy Rohling McGee explained the relationship between children’s access to health care and positive health outcomes in Ohio – which is currently ranked 46th out of 50 states overall on indicators of health and well-being. From there, Tricia Brooks, research professor from Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families, gave an overview of their recent report on increases in the uninsured child rate in Ohio and nationally as well as shared innovative solutions from other states. The final presenter, Ohio Department of Medicaid director, Maureen Corcoran, shared more information on the child enrollment decline in recent years, unveiled new data and tools, and discussed the importance of data transparency for a successful Medicaid program.
Some high level recommendations shared in the discussion include:
- Adopting policies that maximize enrollment, streamline and simplify the application and renewal processes.
- Encouraging consumer use of online tools to maximize convenience and efficiency, and
- Focusing on retention.
- Exploring steps to overhaul the Ohio Benefits vendor system, which is responsible for more than 1,100 errors that have led to the wrongful denial of benefits to many Ohioans who need them.
All children deserve to be healthy, and Ohio can make sure all children are able to thrive and flourish into adulthood by making sure they are all covered.