Modern Healthcare - - REGIONAL NEWS -

MetroHealth Sys­tem re­ceived ap­proval from fed­eral reg­u­la­tors on a com­plex le­gal ma­neu­ver that could ex­tend Med­i­caid cov­er­age to as many as 30,000 peo­ple in Cuya­hoga County ear­lier than they would qual­ify for the cov­er­age if the state ex­pands el­i­gi­bil­ity in 2014 un­der the Pa­tient Pro­tec­tion and Af­ford­able Care Act. The health sys­tem, which is sub­si­dized by Cuya­hoga County, has been work­ing on the waiver since the fall of 2011. The plan would ex­tend health­care cov­er­age for county res­i­dents ages 19 to 64 who are unin­sured, not el­i­gi­ble for reg­u­lar Med­i­caid and have an in­come at or be­low 133% of the fed­eral poverty level, which equates to $14,856 for an in­di­vid­ual. MetroHealth plans to start en­rolling pa­tients im­me­di­ately. “It doesn’t meet the needs of ev­ery­one, but it meets the needs of a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of our pa­tients,” said John Cor­lett, MetroHealth’s vice pres­i­dent of government re­la­tions and com­mu­nity af­fairs. Be­cause MetroHealth is a pub­lic en­tity, it plans to use its $36 mil­lion county sub­sidy to draw about $64 mil­lion in ad­di­tional fed­eral match­ing funds to fi­nance the Med­i­caid ex­pan­sion, which the health sys­tem has dubbed “MetroHealth Care Plus.” The fed­eral ap­proval of the waiver comes af­ter Gov. John Ka­sich’s an­nounce­ment that he wants Ohio to move for­ward with an ex­pan­sion of Med­i­caid un­der the health­care re­form law. Ex­pect­ing an in­flux of newly in­sured pa­tients, MetroHealth last year fin­ished tweak­ing its pri­ma­rycare op­er­a­tions at its satel­lite clin­ics and is do­ing the same for its spe­cialty ser­vice lines. Last Oc­to­ber, Cook County in Illi­nois started en­rolling in­di­vid­u­als in a sim­i­lar pro­gram on a much larger scale. The Cook County pro­gram im­me­di­ately ex­tended cov­er­age to 115,000 in­di­vid­u­als who wouldn’t be el­i­gi­ble for Med­i­caid un­til 2014.

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