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Coffee Contacts; "The New Medicaid" featuring Ms. Cindy Mann and COSE (Council of Smaller Enterprises) Annual Meeting

On Wednesday, February 24th, we got up early and drove to the City of Geneva in Ashtabula County for a "Coffee Contacts" session at 8am with the Geneva Area and Eastern Lake County Chambers of Commerce that was conducted at the City Government Office.

We were welcomed by Mr. Doug Starkey, the City Manager and when it became time to introduce ourselves we talked about how much we liked participating in the Geneva Business Expo just the week IMG_8322 before.

Geneva Police Chief Daniel Dudik took us on a tour of the dispatch center and we were very impressed by the very up-to-date technology.

Afterwards Geneva Fire Chief Dale Arkenburg took us to the garage where the fire trucks were kept and we got to try a suit worn by a fire fighter when he/she battles a fire. All that we can say is that fire fighters have to stay in shape because that suit was quite heavy.

We got to talk to both Chief Dudik and Chief Arkenburg about the diversity situation in Geneva and gave both of them our cards in case a situation arises where Margaret W. Wong and Associates can be of help.

For lunch that day we went to the City Club to attend a program titled "The New Medicaid" featuring Ms. IMG_8325Cindy Mann who, until 2015, was the deputy administrator and director of the Center for Medicaid (CMS) and Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) services. She was introduced by Mr. John Corlett, President and CEO of the Center for Comm unity Solutions who mentioned that between 2010-2014 Ms. Mann had visited the White House almost 400 times for conferences on health care matters. He described Ms. Mann as an advocate for those in need of health care.

At the beginning of her presentation, Ms. Mann said that the Medicaid program we have today is not "your grandmother's Medicaid program" because it was created to be a welfare program for children and their parents as well as the elderly, blind, and disabled. Today it covers 65 million people and is the largest single insurer in the United States. IMG_8343

Among the things that Ms. Mann talked about during the course of her speech were how Medicaid figures into the "new coverage continum"; how tough it was to apply for Medicaid five years ago as opposed to now; how Medicaid expansion reduced the number of uninsured people in Ohio by 38% in 2013-2014; positive side effects of Medicaid expansion on such matters as hospitals being properly compensated; how Medicaid waivers for states work; features of alternative Medicaid expansions like cost sharing, premium assistance, and healthy behavior incentives; and future trends like delivery system reform.

One thing that interested us was an item that appeared on a slide that was shown regarding people in Ohio that remain uninsured due to "income, ESI offer, or CITIZENSHIP STATUS." We asked Ms. Mann about this and was told that many non-citizens in Ohio do qualify for Medicaid or CHIP but not those who have lived here less than five years or are undocumented except for emergency services. Thus, the only avenue for non-emergency health care would be to create a plan using state and local funds.

IMG_8344Near the end of the presentation, Ms. Mann showed us a slide containing a statement from a Medicaid recipient which read, "I wasn't seeking any medical assistance until I started getting really sick...I became eligible now for Medicaid because of the new laws that were passed providing affordable health care in the state of Ohio. It's just been a great help to me not having to worry about that along with everything else. To me, Medicaid means living a healthy lifestyle, and hopefully being around to see my grandchildren grow up into healthy adults."

As we were having lunch, we shared our table with Ms. Adrienne Biernacki with the Lucas County Department of Job and Family Services who drove all the way to Cleveland from Toledo just to attend this program because she admires Ms. Mann so much and we can see why.

Our last event for the day was the COSE (Council of Smaller Enterprises) Annual Meeting held at the Near West Theatre on Detroit Avenue in Cleveland.

IMG_8362Much of the time was devoted to networking and we made about fifteen new contacts including Mr. Paul Wadsworth, General Manager of P.K. Wadsworth Heating and Cooling, Inc. who once worked with Ms. Margaret W. Wong to help some people on an immigration matter and said to tell Ms. Wong hello. We also talked to several people who plan to be doing business overseas and may eventually need the services of Margaret W. Wong andIMG_8349 Associates.

Another person that we talked told of the troubles that he had with the process when he hired a person from Canadian about 10 years ago.

The featured speaker was Mr. Michael Goldberg, Assistant Professor of Design and Innovation at the Weatherhead School of Management at CWRU. Mr. Goldberg told us about being in Hanoi, Vietnam in 2012 and being asked conduct a seminar on how the Vietnam could emulate Silicon Valley in terms of IMG_8351entrepreneurship. He didn't think that Silicon Valley was the model that Vietnam should work with but Cleveland just might be.

Therefore, he taught a weeklong seminar about what Cleveland has done to encourage its entrepreneurs in which he talked about JumpStart and the Third Frontier. He made use of Skype to interview people in Cleveland.

After he returned to the United States, his experience in Vietnam inspired him to conduct a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) titled "Beyond Silicon Valley: Growing Entrepreneurship in Transitioning Economies" which examined how Cleveland makes use of funding from donors, governmental sources, and the private sector to support entrepreneurship. To date, the course has attracted 100,000 students from 190 countries who speak 13 different languages.

We encountered an old friend of ours there and we discussed the article that appeared in the "Scene" magazine this week that talked about the potential of immigrants to constructively impact Cleveland. Our friend told us that she believe that just as marriage equality and LGBT issues were widely discussed in 2015, this year immigration will be moved to the forefront.

We hope that our friend is right and some positive things come out of the dialogue.

Written by:

Michael Patterson 

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC.