The state of healthcare in Ohio: We must do better

March 4, 2020

Contact: Ashley Wolsefer
Phone: (513) 377-8063

Written by Kathy Wyenandt.

Let’s face it: healthcare in Ohio is expensive and uncertain. 

While people with good jobs can access health insurance through employers, three million low-income residents of Ohio– 21 percent of our population– now rely on Medicaid for healthcare, vision and dental care, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), a non-profit organization focusing on national health issues.

And 12,000 more Ohio children under the age of six have no general healthcare coverage today compared to 2016 figures, says a 2019 study by Georgetown University Center for Children and Families. These children are missing out on basic pediatric and dental exams at ages that are crucial to long-term brain development and overall good health. 

Locally, the Ohio Department of Education reports that 46 percent of our children in Butler County schools qualify for subsidized lunches.

Our 10 Butler County school districts report the following percentages of their student populations who qualify for free or reduced-price lunches: Edgewood City Schools, 38 percent; Fairfield City Schools, 42 percent; Hamilton, 68 percent; Lakota, 20 percent; Madison, 31 percent; Middletown, 97 percent; Monroe, 25 percent; New Miami, 100 percent; Ross, 26 percent; and Talawanda City Schools, 33 percent.

Poverty among the young in Ohio is alarming—and increasing. But the young are not the only Ohioans who need adequate, affordable healthcare. 

Conversations I’ve had with voters throughout Butler County indicate their number one issue is healthcare. Their concerns include:

  • Out-of-pocket costs such as deductibles, co-pays, and portions of bills not covered by insurance. 
  • Long-term care for seniors, especially those with dementia or other serious health issues. 
  • Losing health insurance if you lose your job.  
  • Affordable insurance for mental health care and quality care, especially for young workers.
  • Being denied health insurance because of a pre-existing condition. 

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, (ACA), the latter would be illegal, but virtually all conservative Ohio Republican legislators in office today are working hard to overturn the ACA. Although these lawmakers say they’ll continue the popular ACA provision, coverage for pre-existing conditions might still be available, but it could also be unaffordable.

No one should ever lose a home or job because a loved one got sick. And no one should be denied health insurance because of a pre-existing condition.

We need strong insurance exchanges so individuals and small businesses can purchase health insurance at affordable, competitive rates. We need co-pays for mental health care in line with primary care co-pays. We need guaranteed coverage for all pre-existing conditions, without increases in premiums.

We also need Ohio’s Medicaid expansion, which plays a key role in the opioids fight. We need access to more detoxification centers, more long-term maintenance, and care and resources for affected families.

And though it will be a decision made at the federal level, Ohioans should be allowed to keep their private health insurance, as well as have the option of purchasing Medicare at any age. 

We must put people over politics and pass state healthcare laws that help the young, at-risk and elderly.

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Kathy Wyenandt of Liberty Township is running for state senator in Ohio Senate District 4 (Butler County). For more information, visit her website at or call (513) 377-8063.