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Reps. West, Russo raise concerns about Medicaid work requirements to Department Director

Say implementation should be delayed until improvements are made to state's IT system for benefits
January 16, 2020
Democrat Newsroom

State Reps. Thomas West (D-Canton) and Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington) sent a letter to Ohio Department of Medicaid (ODM) Director Maureen Corcoran today expressing their concerns with the implementation of Medicaid work requirements. The lawmakers’ letter comes in light of a year-end report sent by Director Corcoran to Gov. Mike DeWine detailing a variety of issues the department has dealt with over the past year, including chronic problems with the information technology system “Ohio Benefits,” utilized by both ODM and the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) to determine benefit eligibility.

“Given the state of the Ohio Benefits system, it would be irresponsible to take on the additional administrative burden that implementing work requirements for Medicaid would bring. We must ensure that additional eligible Ohioans do not lose their Medicaid coverage,” said West.

“I appreciate the transparency of the Administration, but we do not yet have any details on the plan to resolve these disturbing problems before the roll-out of the Medicaid work requirements,” said Russo. “At the end of the day, this is about improving the lives and well-being of vulnerable Ohioans and children. That begins by making sure our current eligibility system works the way it should, as opposed to further burdening a dysfunctional process with more red tape and administrative costs.”

Corcoran’s report identified nearly 1,100 defects that the Ohio Benefits system currently faces, which in turn have necessitated the creation of 1,765 “workarounds” to remedy these defects. Moreover, the report noted that these defects have also caused privacy issues for over 700 Medicaid members, another startling revelation with serious implications. In these and many other ways, the problems with Ohio Benefits have adversely affected Medicaid recipients and have required Medicaid staff members to spend hundreds of hours rectifying them, according to the report.

Reps. West, Russo raise concerns about Medicaid work requirements to Department Director (PDF)