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Mike DeWine announces wellness program for state employees, Medicaid recipients as part of campaign for Ohio governor

Andrew Tobias | Reporter
August 7, 2018

CLEVELAND, Ohio — If elected governor, Mike DeWine said Tuesday he will start a wellness program aimed at trying to drive down the state government’s long-term health-care costs.

DeWine, the Republican state attorney general, said he would start off by rolling out the voluntary wellness program, modeled after a similar plan used by the Cleveland Clinic, for state employees and retirees. But eventually, he said he’d like it to apply it to the roughly 700,000 poor, working Ohioans covered under Medicaid expansion.

The program would aim to save money by improving health outcomes, and reducing the amount of medical care participants require, he said.

“Our goal is to get Ohio get healthy, to prevent chronic disease from developing and help Ohioans take control of their health by meeting goals and benchmarks,” DeWine said.

The wellness program would involve state employees getting periodically tested on major health indicators such as body-mass index, cholesterol levels and blood pressure. Employees who make enough improvement in those indicators, by complying with health advice by and receiving treatment from doctors, would be rewarded with some sort of incentive, such as reduced healthcare premiums.

The Cleveland Clinic had success with a similar program for its employees, saving more than $80 million annually in the past three years on claims and employee premium costs, the DeWine campaign said. The clinic also has seen a reduction in unscheduled employee sick leave, and for many employees, an improvement in those who meet all the program’s major health benchmarks.

DeWine could not say what sort of incentive would be provided to Ohio Medicaid patients, who do not pay premiums or co-pays, for complying with the program. Some state Medicaid programs or managed-care organizations that administer those programs have offered patients things like gift cards in exchange for meeting wellness goals, such as losing weight.

“This is where we’re going to go. As far as the details, we’re going to get those worked out,” DeWine said.


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