CLEVELAND - More than a thousand people filled Olivet Institutional Baptist Church in Cleveland Thursday to demonstrate widespread community support for Ohio Medicaid expansion.
"If people have medical insurance they're more likely to see a doctor, they're more likely to get preventative care, they're going to stay healthier," said Dr. Kristin Englund who came out for the rally.
President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act expanded Medicaid to cover those making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level.
But when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the act last summer it made Medicaid expansion optional for states. Most of that cost for expanded coverage would fall initially on the federal government.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich is expected to announce his decision when he reveals his new two-year budget Feb. 4, though signs point to him calling for Medicaid expansion.
"We think it's a no-brainer," said Rev. Tracey Lind Dean of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral. "We believe that it's going to help people in the state of Ohio be healthier and it's going to be a revenue source for the state and we know that with every health care dollar spent that there are more dollars generated in the economy."
In coming out in favor of expanding Medicaid, the Ohio Hospital Association said Thursday it makes economic sense in a state that relies heavily on the jobs connected to the health care industry.
“Seven of Ohio’s top 12 employers are hospital systems,” said Mike Abrams, president and CEO of the association.
Expansion means more patients will have the ability to pay their medical bills. It serves as an economic stimulus while also keeping community hospitals afloat.
A report put out last week by Ohio State University and The Health Policy Institute of Ohio, expanded Medicaid would produce just over $1.4 billion in savings and revenue to the state.
Much of that would come in the first several years of the program.
Ohio was one of 26 states that challenged Obamacare and voters in the state in 2011 overwhelmingly rejected the concept of a federal mandate to buy insurance.
"We want Governor Kasich and our legislative leadership to know that Medicaid expansion is extremely important for northeast Ohio," said Rev. Jawanza Colvin of Olivet Institutional Baptist Church. "And that we are willing to do our part to educate the public about the benefits Medicaid expansion will have for our state."
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