Ohio Hospital Lobby Begins Push for Medicaid Expansion Ballot Measure

Ohio Hospital Association

Backed by hospitals, the Universal Health Care Action Network (UHCAN), and others seeking more entitlement spending in the form of the Obamacare Medicaid expansion, a group calling itself Healthy Ohioans Work (HOW) has begun the formal process of putting Medicaid expansion on the ballot.

For months, the Ohio Hospital Association (OHA) has alluded to a ballot initiative as a possible alternative for capturing billions in promised Obamacare money if the Ohio General Assembly refuses to expand Medicaid. Ohioans could face a vote on the issue in November 2014, near the end of the first of three years of 100 percent federal funding for the expansion.

Jon Allison, who introduced the HOW campaign at a September 4 press conference filmed by Youngstown Vindicator reporter Marc Kovac, is also the spokesman for the Ohio Alliance for Health Transformation.

Allison is a registered Statehouse lobbyist for numerous healthcare companies, and served as a legislative counselor and communications director for Secretary of State Robert Taft. Allison later served as chief of staff for Governor Taft, who was one of many Republican supporters of Medicare Part D.

Unsurprisingly, HOW’s initial filing with the secretary of state reveals that the “community-based” group is led by OHA. HOW’s treasurer is OHA Sr. Vice President & General Counsel Sean McGlone, who registered as treasurer using his OHA phone number, email address, and mailing address.

“Healthy Ohioans Work” has been a theme of the push for Medicaid expansion from the Ohio Alliance for Health Transformation as well as Advocates for Ohio’s Future, two coalitions backed by many of the same hospital and business lobbying groups as well as UHCAN Ohio, ProgressOhio, and Policy Matters Ohio.

In February, Republican Governor John Kasich – who campaigned against Obamacare in 2010 – announced his support for Medicaid expansion as part of his proposed biennial budget, claiming he had struck a deal with senior Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett to give Ohio “flexibility” in implementing the expansion.

Despite months of misleading talking points from Medicaid expansion advocates and fawning coverage from Ohio’s most influential newspaper, the legislature still has not embraced the Obamacare Medicaid expansion.

Kasich and OHA insist hospitals need the Obamacare Medicaid expansion to offset charity care funding cuts included in President Obama’s 2010 health law, but a review of public IRS data proves that most Ohio hospitals receive a trivial portion of their total revenue from federal charity care offsets.

Supporters of the policy claim Medicaid expansion is necessary to limit emergency room visits and close the “coverage gap” of Ohioans with no health insurance, but studies have shown that Medicaid expansion does not close the coverage gap or reduce emergency room utilization.