Playing politics may cost 275,000 Ohioans healthcare and hit everyone in the wallet

On this first day that millions of Americans can sign up for affordable health insurance under Obamacare, thanks to the intransigence of many republican state lawmakers, hundreds of thousands of Ohioans remain unable to sign up for health coverage.

Today, low-income Ohioans could have been signing up for coverage through Medicaid if lawmakers had approved the state budget proposal to expand the program – as the ACA intended – to people making up to 138 percent of poverty. Currently in Ohio, childless adults and parents making more than 90 percent of poverty have nowhere to go – they cannot enroll in Medicaid, but they make too little to qualify for federal subsidies that make plans on the healthcare exchanges affordable.

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Many Ohioans will continue to seek the costliest form of care if Medicaid expansion stalls.

When those Ohioans turn up at emergency rooms with serious illnesses due to a lack of primary care coverage, it is the rest of us who will pay in the form of higher healthcare premiums next year and beyond. It’s possible that the faction of the Ohio GOP caucus holding up expansion is optimistic for this outcome (to the great dismay of those in the hospital industry) in hopes of gaining a political victory when Obamacare fails to live up to its affordability promise.

But without action, 275,000 Ohians will still not have healthcare coverage and the rest of us – businesses and individuals – will pay the cost. Is that worth playing politics over?