The Ohio Legislature has passed a budget that attempts to provide all of the states children with access to health insurance.
Gov. Ted Strickland is expected to sign the legislation, which would extend Medicaid eligibility to children whose families make as much as 300% of the federal poverty level, reaching an additional 26,000 children. It would also allow higher-income families to buy into the program to cover children whose medical conditions make it prohibitively expensive for them to buy coverage in the private market.
The expansion is a partial victory for Strickland, a Democrat, who proposed a plan in March intended to provide access to all of Ohios estimated 156,000 uninsured children by allowing families at any income level outside the guidelines to buy into the program.
"This year's state budget is by far one of the best for Ohio's hospitals we've seen in a long time," Ohio Hospital Association spokeswoman Tiffany Himmelreich said.
The two-year spending plan includes increases in Medicaid reimbursement in each year for both physicians and hospitals. "It's the first increase for providers since 2000," Ohio State Medical Association spokeswoman Lisa Hackley said. -- by Gregg Blesch