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Support Sought for Medicaid Expansion
Posted on: 10/01/2013
By  Mike Cullums
It's estimated that nearly one million Ohioans struggle with substance abuse. Experts say too many have trouble getting the help they need to battle addiction, but that could change if state lawmakers agree to Medicaid expansion.  
Under Governor John Kasich’s proposal, Medicaid benefits would extend to Ohioans with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. Director of the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, Tracy Plouch says this would allow many working people, struggling with addiction, to access clinical services...    
"That might include detoxification, counseling, assessments or examining the proper drug regimen for individuals or medication assisted treatment if someone is struggling with an opiate addiction."
Plouch says Medicaid expansion would bring $75 million in benefits to Ohioans. The governor wants to take advantage of the federal aid to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act but lawmakers - many concerned about future costs - have not approved Kasich's proposal.
In the meantime, expansion supporters have started a petition drive to get the matter on the November 2014 ballot.  
Ohio has 53 local boards that handle mental health and addiction recovery services. Most use a combination of local tax levies and state subsidies to fund clinical services. Plouch says Medicaid expansion would help them add the services to help those in recovery rebuild their lives…

"If the governor’s plan goes through, boards then could redirect their existing dollars away from the clinical service needs and focus on things like housing and prevention partnerships and employment supports."
With nearly a million addicted Ohioans, Plouch says it's crucial to have effective services available when people decide to get help... 

"Clearly the addiction to drugs or to alcohol has the very quick ability to take over your ability to function as a responsible member of society."  
ODMHAS estimates that in the past year, two to three percent of Ohioans needed help for drug addiction, and twice as many - six percent - needed treatment for alcohol abuse.
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