1,165 apply online for Medicaid benefits

By Marc Kovac

news@vindy.com

COLUMBUS

A total of 1,165 needy Ohioans had submitted applications for health benefits through the state’s new online Medicaid system as of midafternoon Monday, the first day the website (www.benefits.ohio.gov) began accepting enrollments.

“The system’s going great,” Sam Rossi, a spokesman for the state’s Medicaid department, said late Monday afternoon. “We’ve had a very good day. We’ve been working very hard in recent months for this.”

Ohioans can access the website to see if they’re eligible for coverage; those who earn too much will be directed to the federal health insurance marketplace (www.healthcare.gov).

Monday’s launch was about a month earlier than initially expected and came less than two months after the state Controlling Board signed off on spending authority to direct about $2.5 billion in federal funds to cover health care services for Ohioans earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level ($15,856 for an individual, $32,499 for a family of four).

The enrollment launch also came despite a lawsuit challenging Gov. John Kasich’s Medicaid expansion decision, with half a dozen conservative lawmakers and two anti-abortion groups saying the Controlling Board did not have authority to sign off on the new spending and that such decisions must be decided by the full Ohio House and Senate.

The Ohio Supreme Court is considering arguments from both sides in the case.

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