OHIO — Ohio’s top health care official warned Thursday that “all-out” immigration enforcement is a threat to Ohio’s entire health care infrastructure, warning that President Donald Trump’s executive order that temporarily suspends immigration for all illegal aliens is “devastating.”
In a letter to Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Mathews Burwell, Ohio’s chief medical officer, Dr. Michael Schadt, wrote that his state’s ability to treat millions of residents has been “at risk” from Trump’s actions.
He said the Trump directive would not only “dramatically reduce Ohio’s economic competitiveness,” but also “pose a significant threat to the health and well-being of our residents, especially those living in communities that have been impacted by the opioid crisis.”
Schadt said Ohioans are “deeply worried” that the order would make it “impossible” to treat residents and “we will need all of the resources and expertise we have to make sure we can do it.”
In the letter, Schadtsaid that Ohio is already seeing “an unprecedented increase in the number of visits to OHIO’s emergency rooms” as a result of the opioid epidemic.
He noted that Ohio’s emergency room beds are at “record lows,” and that Ohio has seen an increase in opioid-related admissions in the last year.
Schadts letter came one day after Ohio’s Office of Health Plans, the state’s health insurance marketplace, reported that the state experienced a 36 percent drop in emergency room visits from 2016 to 2017.
Ohio is one of five states in which opioid-dependent patients make up more than 60 percent of emergency room admissions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
John Kasich, a Republican, has repeatedly warned that Ohioans will not be able to afford the insurance policies they are purchasing in order to receive health care.
Ohio is one part of the nation that has seen its uninsured rate climb dramatically, as more people are opting out of the Obamacare marketplaces, while also seeing premium increases.
Kasich said the number “is going to be astronomical” in the coming months.
The state’s largest insurer, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Ohio, has warned that the Trump immigration order could make it impossible for Ohioans to afford health care in the near future, as it will reduce the amount of medical care doctors can provide to patients.
Blue Cross, which serves more than 11 million Ohioans, has said it is considering relocating to Texas, which is facing an opioid epidemic, and said it has “no intention of leaving.”
Ohio has one of the highest per capita health care spending per capita in the country, according, at $8,000, and it has one out of every 10 residents with pre-existing conditions.
The state’s share of the total state budget is roughly 14.4 percent.
Ohio also ranks among the highest states for economic activity per capita.
A 2016 report by the Urban Institute found that Ohio had the second highest unemployment rate in the U.S. at 5.6 percent, while the average per capita household income in the state was $28,800, the fifth highest in the nation.
The Ohio Department of Health Services, which oversees OHIO Health, also said that its emergency room network has experienced “significant increases” in opioid use in the past year.
The Ohio Department for Healthcare and Environment reported a 31 percent increase in opioids in the first six months of 2017, compared to the same period a year ago.
Ohio also ranked among the top states for opioid-associated deaths per 100,000 people.
The Trump administration, however, has not provided a clear timetable for the rollout of the Trump order.
In a statement, Ohio Health Director Michael Breen said, “Ohioans need access to quality and affordable health care and we are committed to working with the administration to ensure all Ohioans have access to the care they need.”