The Medicaid expansion has been an essential part of Ross County's effort to tackle the opiod crisis over the last couple of years. That's the message conveyed during a Friday morning press conference conducted by Chillicothe Mayor Luke Feeney, Cheryl Beverly of Cheryl's House of Hope and Michelle McAllister, Coordinator for the Heroin Partnership Project.
Ross County currently has 24,836 people receiving some type of Medicaid funding, with 5,777 of those being on the roles thanks to the expansion in funding accepted by Ohio Governor John Kasich, three years ago.
Mayor Luke Feeney addressed concerns by some who say "Ohio can't sustain the expansion after the federal window of expanded funding runs out".
Local officials say there is evidence that some progress is being made, as 2017 Ross County statistics saw its first decline in overdose deaths, since the start of the opiod crisis.
Cheryl Beverly says her recovery program for women would not be possible without this funding and Michelle McAllister says the improvement seen in Ross County would go "the other way" if we lose these Medicaid dollars.
Where Medicaid previously dealt with mostly "impoverished families" in need of help, the expansion dollars opened the door for helping "impoverished individuals" that need detox and recovery services.
Democrat candidates for Ohio Governor have pledged to pickup Medicaid expansion dollars at the state level when the federal expansion dollars expire. Republican candidate Mary Taylor has pledged to cut the dollars and candidate Mike Dewine says the current level of spending on Medicaid at the state level is not sustainable, and wants to see development of a "third option".