Editorial: Make Medicaid enrollment simple

A recent editorial by the Toledo Blade:

Folks on Medicaid face enough challenges without the state of Ohio adding difficulties to the mix. Like the convoluted process the state recently used to choose and exclude managed care providers, the follow-through also brings unnecessary concern for folks in the program.

The changes should be seamless — that’s not the case.

The procurement process changed the mix of companies. Second, Ohio’s Medicaid system decided to effectively take everyone off the plan they were on and offer the options of continuing with their current plan or being automatically enrolled in a plan. In the past folks on a plan did not have to indicate they wanted to remain on the same plan.

Which plan? An algorithm decides if the individual does not re-enroll in their existing plan if it remains available.

Medicaid serves people who are down on their luck, may lack education and other resources or perhaps move around quite a bit. Many likely won’t be aware of or able to make the selection for themselves. The selection made for them likely means a change in providers. It also means figuring out getting to the new doctor. Most of us don’t have to worry about such things. People eligible for Medicaid do worry about such things.

Getting basic medical care shouldn’t be another trouble on their minds.

An advocacy group, Innovation Ohio, reported on how the changes can hurt some of our most vulnerable citizens. Some of the valid concerns outlined by Innovation Ohio in their report:

— Between 15 percent and 60 percent of members might be expected to select a plan, with the rest — anywhere from 1 million to 2.4 million Ohioans — subject to reassignment.

— These individuals are disproportionately Black, female, and younger than the Ohio population overall.

— A change in health care plan could mean a subscriber’s providers are no longer in network and services are no longer covered.

— While emphasizing consumer choice, the move appears to be aimed at ensuring profitability of managed care plans by redistributing current members.

Those million-plus people deserve a simpler system. There must be a better way and the state should examine alternatives to simplify the enrollment process.

— Toledo Blade, January 29