Ohio board likely to approve Medicaid expansion

Yes vote from newly appointed GOP lawmaker should seal deal
Associated Press
Oct 21, 2013

 

Funding Medicaid expansion is more likely to be approved in Ohio after the state's House speaker replaced two Republican members of a legislative panel on Monday.

House Speaker William Batchelder has asked GOP Reps. Ross McGregor, of Springfield, and Jeff McClain, of Upper Sandusky, to serve on the state's Controlling Board, said Mike Dittoe, Batchelder's spokesman.

The powerful but little-known board was questioning a request from Republican Gov. John Kasich Monday afternoon to allow federal money to be spent on expanding the Medicaid health program to give coverage to thousands more residents. People lined the hearing room to await the decision and more people sat in the Statehouse atrium to hear the vote.

Ohio recently got federal approval to extend Medicaid eligibility, but Kasich's administration needs legislative approval to spend federal money on the estimated 366,000 newly eligible residents.

McGregor said before the hearing that he supports an expansion of the program — a key component of President Barack Obama's federal health care law — for the poor and disabled.

"I wish that we would have been able to get to this point via a legislative route, but that does not appear to be viable at this time," McGregor said in a telephone interview. "And I think that it's important that we be in a position as a state to receive the full benefits of expansion that begin in January."

The federal government would pay the entire cost of the expansion for the first three years, gradually phasing down to 90 percent — still well above Ohio's current level of 64 percent.

Medicaid already provides coverage to one of every five residents in Ohio. Ohio would get $13 billion from the federal government to cover costs of an expanded program over the next seven years, according to the Kasich administration.

Medicaid expansion allows those making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $15,860 for an individual, to be eligible for the program. Many are childless adults living in poverty.

Kasich has pushed for Medicaid expansion since he pitched his version of the state's two-year budget in February. But the GOP-controlled Legislature balked at the idea and has tried to find common ground on other changes to the Medicaid program.

The Kasich administration is asking the Controlling Board on Monday for the authority to spend $561.7 million in federal money this budget year and almost $2 billion next year to cover the new Medicaid population.

The seven-member board handles certain adjustments to the state budget. It's made up of an administration official and six lawmakers — two Democrats and four Republicans.

The Democrats and Kasich appointee are expected to favor the request. McGregor, who is finishing his last term in the House, appears to be the single Republican vote that Kasich has been searching for.

Asked whether he would vote "yes," McGregor said he plans on being consistent with his support of Medicaid, barring any arguments that change his mind.

McClain said Monday in an interview that he would vote "no" on the request if he has a chance.

Many Republicans in Ohio are averse to the new health law and resistant to expanding government programs. They have cited concerns about increasing the national debt and fears that the money from Washington could be cut off.

Board approval of expansion is likely to spark a lawsuit.

State Rep. Ron Young, one of more than 30 House Republicans who formally protested the Controlling Board request last week, said he expects to be among plaintiffs in a lawsuit being prepared by expansion opponents.

Maurice Thompson, executive director of the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law, said the group would argue in the suit that the board is violating the Legislature's intent not to expand Medicaid.

The Kasich administration has said the state would be ready to implement an expansion of the program when it gets legislative backing. Newly eligible residents could start enrolling as soon as this month for coverage that takes effect in January.

 

Comments

coasterfan

Thank you, Gov. Kasich, for doing the right thing for tens of thousands of Ohioans.

Pterocarya frax...

While I agree, we should add the footnote that he is only doing it to improve his chances of being elected again.

KnuckleDragger

Really? He will likely be elected again anyway since it appears the Dems are going to run Fitzgerald. At Fitzgerald's last speaking engagement he garnered a whopping two people in attendence and both of them were local press. The rest of the press corp and constituency was absent. Not too many people are exited about Fitzgerald. He is a job jumper on the scale of Josh Mandel.

shucks

Pterocarya ,

That's what I think too.

Dr. Information

obama and dems….same thing

Contango

Re: "Ohio would get $13 billion from the federal government to cover costs of an expanded program over the next seven years,"

A fiscal time bomb.

The Feds cover for the entire costs for three yrs. and then it begins to become the responsibility of OH taxpayers.

Fortunately, Washington can have money printed outa thin air. Unfortunately, there are not "Benjamin Orchards" in Columbus.

Guess Gov. Kasich just wanted to take the advice of Henny Youngman when he said:

"Nem de gelt" (Take the money)

The Bizness

Just a question for you Contango.

Are you ever happy, or do you just sit at home and watch your stocks and tremble in fear that government is coming to get you?

I really have never seen you post anything positive that I can recall.

Contango

Re: "do you just sit at home and watch your stocks and tremble in fear that government is coming to get you?"

Off-topic and ludicrous, however:

No and no.

The Bizness

Oh I know it was off topic...just curious. Have a good day though.

Back on topic, I don't think going to the controlling board was the right move to get this done. Seemed kind of shady.

deertracker

If you want to make contango happy, just send him a gift wrapped bottle of Kessler's. Just be sure to get the biggest bottle there is.

The Bizness

Noted, thanks deertracker! ha

Contango

Re: "Noted,"

I'd only use Kessler’s to 'maybe' clean chrome.

And per usual your SSDI, Medicaid and SNAP recipient crazy off-topic pal prefers the taste of his own sh*t. If you join him in his snack, use breath mints.

FINI

The Bizness

Alright, I will try to find some GlenDronach.

I didn't know Kessler's was crap until I googled it. I am not much of a whiskey drinker.

KnuckleDragger

Or in your case a 40 and a pack of black and mild's. Throw in some white gravy and you'll be euphoric for the day.

deertracker

Yuck, I hate white gravy. It looks like infant vomit, just add pepper, black pepper! Also, I have never drank a beer or a 40 or smoked a cigarette or black and mild. How about you?

shucks

What kind of a doctor are you gonna be?

shucks

"...do you just sit at home and watch your stocks and tremble in fear that government is coming to get you?"

.........BINGO !!!

SamAdams

Yet ANOTHER intrusive government expansion at taxpayer expense (just because the federal government is paying for this in the short term doesn't mean Ohio taxpayers aren't still on the hook -- if you pay state taxes, you sure as heck pay federal taxes!). This isn't (or it shouldn't be) about whether or not more people will benefit from government hand-outs. It's about affordability and fiscal responsibility, NEITHER of which are evidenced here.

A democracy only lasts until the people realize they can vote themselves largesse from the treasury. Guess what, boys and girls?