Ohio is moving its Medicaid program to the rank of a freestanding, cabinet-level agency, reported the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
The change by Gov. Kasich's administration highlights the priority many states are giving to the program since the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was upheld as constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. Elsewhere, governors are mulling whether to expand Medicaid under the auspices of the ACA--and therefore raise the profile of their specific programs--or stand put against expansion.
Meanwhile, Republican leadership has a plan to dramatically scale back Medicaid nationally if it wins the White House and Congress in November, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Kasich's plan to bump up the status of Medicaid comes as the state's spending on the program is projected to reach nearly $19 billion in 2012--Ohio government's single biggest expense, the Plain Dealer reported.
Kasich, a Republican, had planned to make Medicaid reform a top priority of his administration, although there are no plans to make any major cuts to the program.
"This is a change that is overdue," Greg Moody, director of the Governor's Office of Health Transformation, told the newspaper. "Gov. Kasich believes it is time to act and time for Medicaid beneficiaries and Ohio taxpayers to begin seeing the improvements that this transformation will provide."