Home Politics Kasich circumvented legislative process to pass Medicaid in Ohio

Kasich circumvented legislative process to pass Medicaid in Ohio

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The future of Medicaid has historically been determined by states, but that’s not the case for Ohio. Gov. John Kasich put the fate of Medicaid expansion in the hands of his hand-picked controlling panel.

In a 5-2 vote Monday, the controlling board voted yes to adopt Medicaid expansion in the state of Ohio. Now, Ohio is among 25 other states that expanded Medicaid under President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

To the alarm of Republican officials around the state, Kasich circumvented the standard legislative process and urged his controlling panel to accept $2.5 million in federal funds to cover Medicaid. Kasich stands with only eight other Republican governors in the country who advocated for the expansion of Medicaid.

After Kasich failed to convince the Ohio Legislature to expand Medicaid, a goal he worked on for almost a year, he sought alternative ways to pass the $1 billion expansion.

“The Controlling Board has the authority to adjust federal appropriation levels,” said Greg Moody, director of Kasich’s Office of Health Transformation.

With a majority vote, the Controlling Board draws a federal appropriation fund that enables Ohio to receive enough money to extend coverage.

In the past, the Controlling Board oversaw smaller projects, including increasing appropriation authority for the Police Officer Training Academy Fee at the request of the Attorney General. Likewise, both Ohio University and Ohio State University have requested the controlling board to release capital funds for building repairs. But never has the Controlling Board had such authority deciding state budget.

Created in 1917, the Controlling Board provides legislative oversight over certain capital and operating expenditures by state agencies and has approval authority over various state fiscal activities.

Republican Sen. Chris Widener, who voted yes to expand Medicaid, released a statement saying, “Medicaid is not a perfect system, but it’s what we have right now in the state of Ohio.”

The expansion will potentially insure as many as 330,000 in Ohio. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, these people are mostly uninsured adults, but also include some adults who currently have other health care coverage.

Kasich has always advocated for more jobs in Ohio. The governor is up for re-election next year and claims that the expanding Medicaid will benefit Ohio’s economy with the idea that a healthier workforce will attract more companies to invest in Ohioans.

But Judy Soloman, vice president for health policy at the nonpartisan research institute Center on Budget and Policy Priorities believes that it is only a matter of time before all states approve the expansion.

Kasich has been charged with harsh criticism from Republicans for the recent expansion, but he insists it is in the best interest for Ohio. Critics have said that Kasich violated state law by allowing the board to expand Medicaid.

Some are so outraged by the adoption of Medicaid that they are suing over it. The 1851 Center for Constitutional Law reported they were suing over the decision to use the Controlling Board to reach Kasich’s desired outcome. The center called the vote a “small oligarchy” of legislators, pointing out that members of the Controlling Board were switched out last minute.

Regardless of the controversy surrounding the expansion, beginning in January, Ohio will extend Medicaid coverage.


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