New numbers bolster John Kasich's argument for Medicaid expansion

After defending his position to expand Medicaid during the first Republican presidential debate, Ohio Gov. John Kasich's administration reported the program cost $2 billion below estimates in the most recent fiscal year.

Total Medicaid spending in the state stood at $23.5 billion in the FY ending June 30, a figure that was 7.6 percent less than the Kasich administration anticipated, the Columbus Dispatch reports. Ohio's Medicaid program achieved these savings through its expansion of managed care, home-based senior care, shorter nursing home stays and capitated reimbursement, an official told the newspaper.

The state also updated its systems that determine Medicaid applicants' eligibility and pay providers for care.

These savings are in spite of the fact that Medicaid expansion in the state added 500,000 adults to the program last year, a figure that was 150,000 higher than Ohio expected--though traditional, non-expansion Medicaid enrollment dropped as more customers moved to the state exchanges, officials note.

Kasich has faced criticism from the GOP base and his fellow candidates for his decision to expand Medicaid in Ohio, though he has steadfastly defended the move, essentially arguing that it is a Christian imperative to help the poor by expanding the program, Vox reports.

In another less-than-mainstream GOP view, controversial candidate Donald Trump said during the first debate that a single-payer healthcare system works in other countries and could have worked in the U.S. "in a different age." Jeb Bush on the other hand, characterized the Affordable Care Act as a "job killer," and advocated for its replacement.

Recent poll results indicate that Medicaid expansion states experienced greater declines in the number of individuals without health insurance, and some states have reported budget savings and revenue gains as a result of expanding the program. However, some have expressed concerns that state budgets may suffer as a result of enrollment surges.

To learn more:
- read the Columbus Dispatch article
- here's the Vox article
- watch the debate replay

Related Articles:
Medicaid expansion, state exchanges drive greater drops in uninsured
Budget woes continue for Medicaid expansion states
Newly eligible Medicaid beneficiaries more costly to cover than expected
Medicaid expansion roundup: Waiver programs gain steam in GOP states

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