Letter to the Editor

The current attempt by the Senate majority to secure the 51 votes necessary to approve an $800 billion cut to Medicaid, overturning the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and eliminating its Medicaid expansion, on a timetable designed to avoid any committee hearings or debate, will do great harm to thousands of Ohioans in Paulding County.

Here at Paulding County Hospital we provide exceptional healthcare to more than 18,000 residents across Northwest Ohio. And as one of the largest employers in the county, we provide jobs to more than 200 community members. When a change effects the healthcare system, it affects all of us — our patients, our employees, and the community.

Congress is currently contemplating a major change to the healthcare system. And they’re not just voting on a repeal of the ACA, they will be voting to cut more than $800 billion from the Medicaid program, threatening care to more than 4,000 of our patients relying on Medicaid as their form of health insurance. These are seniors who rely on Medicaid for their nursing home coverage, children with disabilities who require specialized care, individuals seeking treatment for opioid addiction, and expecting mothers. These are our neighbors and our teachers. Our caregivers and our friends.

Capping the Medicaid program, as Congress is currently considering, will not just threaten health insurance coverage for our neighbors. It will also threaten jobs and the local economy. This change would create an unreasonable cost shift to states and local hospitals — like Paulding County Hospital — that are unable to fill in the gaps. Our Congressional representatives should be working together to focus on ways to improve the system for all Ohioans.

It’s time for Congress to stand up to protect Medicaid and the individuals it covers – seniors, children, pregnant women, the disabled, those struggling with addiction, and low-income families — and to set aside its partisan attempts to repeal the ACA. And it’s time for all of us here in Paulding to reach out to all of our representatives — Democrats and Republicans alike — and let them know Medicaid cuts don’t work for Paulding County. Medicaid restructuring — in the form of block grants or per capita caps — should not be used as a vehicle to make federal budget cuts or pay for tax reform.

We need a plan that improves coverage and actually reduces costs. That is what was promised, and that is what Ohioans deserve.

Randal Ruge, CEO