Ohio Senate Holds Hearing on Medicaid Reform, Obamacare Expansion

The Ohio Senate Medicaid Finance Subcommittee held a hearing on August 13 “to discuss improvement goals for Medicaid reform,” while business groups, socialized medicine lobbyists, and Governor John Kasich pressure Republican leadership to pass the Obamacare Medicaid expansion.

Led by Senator Dave Burke (R-Marysville), the subcommittee heard testimony from the Health Policy Institute of Ohio (HPIO), whose January report framing Obamacare Medicaid expansion funding as free money has been used as evidence Ohio should extend Medicaid to hundreds of thousands of able-bodied childless adults under the age of 65.

A recent HPIO study estimated that assuming the state were to aggressively limit Medicaid spending growth, Ohio could implement the Obamacare Medicaid expansion and still spend less on the program relative to a no-reform baseline.

Capping future Medicaid spending growth has nothing to do with the Obamacare Medicaid expansion, but already Sen. Capri Cafaro (D-Hubbard) has used HPIO’s findings to assert the Obamacare Medicaid expansion would save taxpayers money.

According to a release from the Senate, the Medicaid Finance Subcommittee’s goals are to “Create incentives to follow a pathway from Medicaid coverage to private health insurance coverage” and to “Enact and move forward on strategies that move the Medicaid program toward sustainability and predictability.”

Contrary to the disingenuous claims of Obamacare supporters, reforms targeted at these goals are in no way contingent on adopting the Medicaid expansion that is central to President Obama’s 2010 health law.

In fact, research from Tennessee, Oregon, Arizona, Delaware, and Maine suggests Medicaid expansion would act as a new disincentive for Ohioans to find work.

With the federal government $16.7 trillion in debt and making arbitrary new changes to Obamacare seemingly every week, there is no doubt expanding Medicaid would make the program less sustainable and predictable.

As should be obvious to legislators and news reporters, Ohio would save far more taxpayer money by developing reforms to limit Medicaid spending growth while also rejecting the Obamacare Medicaid expansion. The General Assembly did not ask HPIO to develop projections for any such scenarios.

“Medicaid expansion would cost Ohio less than doing nothing, study shows,” Joe Vardon at The Columbus Dispatch helpfully chimed in on August 13. The Dispatch has ample time to cast the best possible light on pro-expansion news, as the paper ignores all evidence against expansion.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer’s editors have actually encouraged socialized medicine advocates to sell the Obamacare Medicaid expansion by branding it as “reform.”

After the August 13 hearing, the Senate Republicans posted an update to Twitter mentioning Medicaid expansion – only to delete it moments later and post a message about “Medicaid reform.”

Should the subcommittee choose to push for the Obamacare Medicaid expansion under the guise of “reform,” it would not be the first time this year Ohio legislators acted in direct opposition to their stated entitlement reform goals.

In April, Rep. Barbara Sears (R-Monclova Twp.) submitted an amendment to the biennial budget calling for Medicaid reforms designed to “Lower net state and federal costs for the Medicaid program.” Barely a month later, Rep. Sears introduced a bill to implement the Obamacare Medicaid expansion, which would increase annual state and federal Medicaid spending by billions.

Rep. Sears, whose campaign committee is heavily funded by the health care industry, is also involved in the legislature’s current Medicaid “reform” process.