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CLEVELAND (WJW) – Budget cuts to Ohio’s Medicaid program will largely involve adjusting rates for managed care plans, according to the state’s Office of Budget and Management Director.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced $775 million in budget cuts, including a $210 million reduction in Medicaid spending, to balance a budget affected by steep drops in revenues due to the pandemic.

“None of these decisions are easy, and I do not make them lightly,” DeWine said at Tuesday’s press briefing.  The Medicaid cuts will not reduce essential services, according to DeWine.

Office of Budget and Management Director Kimberly Murnieks told reporters Wednesday that the state is still finalizing the implementation of the Medicaid cuts and coordinating with the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

She said implementing the reduction will largely involve adjusting managed care plan rates as a result of decreased use of healthcare services during the pandemic. “Managed care rates are normally adjusted twice each year, and there’s a process for doing those rate changes,” Murnieks said. “Any time we have these kinds of changes, whether, during the budget or a midyear time, we go through this normal rate adjustment process.” She said there will also be administrative reductions in the Department of Medicaid, including by constraining IT costs and through the statewide hiring freeze.

“It’s not a cut that will impact the ability of individuals to either be enrolled in Medicaid or to access services, especially during the pandemic,” Murnieks said.

The cut comes as more people enroll in Medicaid after losing healthcare coverage during the pandemic, according to Murnieks. She said the federal government increased its share of Medicaid costs by 6.2 percent through the CARES Act in March. Murnieks said that additional federal funding will cover increased enrollment in the coming months.