- Associated Press - Thursday, August 13, 2015

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Ohio’s total Medicaid spending was nearly $2 billion below estimates for the fiscal year that ended in June, despite more newly eligible enrollees under an expansion of the program, according to a new report.

The report released Wednesday shows total Medicaid spending was $23.5 billion - 7.6 percent less than projected.

Medicaid Director John McCarthy told The Columbus Dispatch (http://bit.ly/1f9MPYu ) that recent initiatives contributed to the savings, such as shorter nursing-home stays, expanded home-based care for seniors, expanded managed care and capitated reimbursement policies, or pay per patient rather than per patient visit.

“This is a good example of where you have better management tools, you can better manage the program and control costs,” said Greg Moody, director of the Governor’s Office of Health Transformation.

The program also has new automated systems that more accurately determine the eligibility of applicants. As of May, about 90,000 people who were no longer eligible for benefits lost them.

Moody said the state is working to improve primary care by focusing on keeping people healthy rather than treating them when they are sick. He said it also working on more efficiently treating common conditions, like high blood pressure and diabetes.

The savings follow Gov. John Kasich’s expansion of Medicaid in 2013 to cover thousands more Ohioans, as allowed under President Barack Obama’s health care law. Nearly 3 million people are now enrolled after more than 500,000 low-income adults without dependent children enrolled last year - 150,000 more than expected, state officials said. That number was offset, though, by a decrease in traditional enrollments.

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Information from: The Columbus Dispatch, http://www.dispatch.com

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