|Connections is a leading provider of behavioral healthcare services in
northeast Ohio. We are dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of mental
illness and chemical dependency, and advocating on behalf of clients and
their families. Annually, Connections provides care for more than four thousand
individuals. Our staff of 200 employees includes psychiatrist, registered
nurses, licensed social workers, psychologists, and counselors. Connections
provides services for children, adults, and families at one of our four
locations in Cuyahoga County.
Online enrollment began yesterday for Ohio’s newly expanded Medicaid program, allowing more than 1,100 low-income residents to sign up for tax-funded health insurance by the end of the day.
State officials said it’s likely the largest number ever to sign up for benefits in a single day.
“It was a pretty big day,” said Greg Moody, director of the Governor’s Office of Health Transformation.
It also was without the technical failures and glitches that plagued the Oct. 1 launch of HealthCare.gov’s online enrollment system.
Ohio’s system went up at 6 a.m. yesterday, and by 10 a.m. had successfully accepted 233 Medicaid applications. By the end of the workday, 1,165 had been processed. Until now, applicants mostly had to submit paper applications at their county welfare office.
By early afternoon, Franklin County Job and Family Services had 22 people who came in to apply for Medicaid submit their requests online without any problems.
“It’s working as well as we thought it would,” said Lance Porter, spokesman for the county agency.
Ohio’s recently approved Medicaid expansion — a key component of the Affordable Care Act —provides coverage to those with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, which is just under $16,000 for an individual.
Medicaid now covers 2.4 million poor and disabled Ohioans. State officials project another 600,000 will sign up for coverage in the next year. About half are newly eligible, while the other half already qualify and are expected to sign up to avoid tax penalties imposed after Jan. 1 for most Americans without health insurance.
The new system will shorten the time needed for caseworkers to process applications. Eventually, the system will process food stamps, welfare and other government assistance.
For Medicaid enrollment, the system is integrated with federal-data hubs to verify identification and income information. However, not everything is automated.
Moody said some applicants were referred back to caseworkers if the income they reported in their online application varied by more than 5 percent from what was reported on their tax return. In such situations, a caseworker will have to verify the income.
In Franklin County, Porter said caseworkers have sent postcards to hundreds of residents who were not previously eligible for coverage, encouraging them to re-apply. The county is hosting its first “mass sign-up” this weekend for those without computer access.
To find out if you are eligible for Medicaid benefits and to submit an application, individuals can visit http://benefits.ohio.gov.