NOBLE would like to hear about your experience with the Ohio Benefits System

(Plain Press, October 2019)           Have you had any issues applying for Medicaid, food stamps or cash assistance? Northern Ohioans for Budget Legislation Equality (NOBLE), an organization that focuses on state budget issues as it relates to health and human services with the hopes of improving the system, has created a survey to better understand the Ohio Benefits System and the impact it has on users.

In 2018, the state of Ohio transferred food- and cash-assistance, Woman Infants and Children assistance (WIC), special needs assistance, work, childcare, unemployment insurance, etc., cases to a processing system known as Ohio Benefits, which previously handled only Medicaid cases.

Developing a single, mammoth system for the major public-benefits programs was part of a long-term plan by the state to streamline and modernize the way Ohioans apply for and receive aid.

Trying to automate how an Ohioan can apply for and receive human-services benefits is enormously complex. That helps explain some of the issues that have arose since its inception, but does not excuse the serious issues that Ohioans are experiencing while trying to utilize the new automated system. The system has made it harder for eligible Ohioans to obtain and continue to receive food assistance and it has been linked to declining Medicaid enrollment in Ohio.

Ohio’s Medicaid enrollment has declined more than 8% in the past two years, raising questions about whether the more than 250,000 former beneficiaries have become uninsured or found other health coverage.

Medicaid Director Maureen Corcoran suggests enrollment has declined because of an improving economy, as well as “systems issues,” including a sometimes-clumsy computerized renewal process that beneficiaries must complete every year to maintain coverage.

Health policy analysts suggest a better economy may be contributing to, but cannot account for, such a sharp decline. They believe the primary cause is the Ohio Benefits system, which has drawn federal scrutiny. They suggest that along with the time-consuming sign-up and renewal process, drops may be reflective of another culprit, a reduction in enrollment assistance.

NOBLE would like to hear from you what the truth really is! If you or someone that you know has used the Ohio Benefits system in the last year for healthcare, childcare, food and cash benefits, etc., and would like to participate in the survey, please contact NOBLE’s organizer Brittney Madison at 330-571-3333.

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