Leftist Groups: Ohioans Will Die if Court Impedes Obamacare

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An array of “progressive” groups warned in a November 22 Ohio Supreme Court brief that the justices would kill Ohioans by interfering with Governor John Kasich’s unilateral implementation of the Obamacare Medicaid expansion.

“If Relators were successful in blocking this Medicaid expansion, Relators would have ripped away the lifeline of Medicaid expansion for low-income Ohioans for an undetermined period of time, during which time an unknown number of low-income adults in Ohio would deteriorate emotionally and physically–and some would die–due to the lack of health care,” the brief asserted.

Filed by more than two dozen groups including the Ohio Federation of Teachers (OFT), union-funded think tank Policy Matters Ohio, and the Universal Health Care Action Network of Ohio (UHCAN Ohio), the brief’s actual legal arguments were barely a page long.

The amici curiae brief made no relevant points the Kasich Administration has not already made, referencing portions of the state budget and Ohio Revised Code allowing the Department of Medicaid to adjust program rules and the Controlling Board to appropriate funding.

The Ohio General Assembly has nondelegable legislative authority over major policy decisions, but the entitlement lobby merely ignored this fact and moved on to arguing that inadequately socialized medicine is killing Ohioans.

The leftist groups also ignored the fact that the Controlling Board may only act pursuant to the intent of the legislature — which removed the Obamacare Medicaid expansion from the state budget, and added language to the budget expressly forbidding the Obamacare expansion.

The brief devoted roughly 13 pages to Obamacare advocacy unrelated to the legal questions at issue in the case.

One section, for example, was titled, “Indigent Adults Throughout Ohio Under 65 Would Suffer Extreme Emotional Distress, Would Deteriorate Physically, and Some Would Die If This Court Granted the Requested Writ.”

Many of the brief’s assertions strongly resembled talking points the Kasich Administration used as the Republican governor unsuccessfully tried to pressure the legislature to embrace Obamacare:

  • “The benefits of Medicaid expansion to hundreds of thousands of Ohioans without health insurance are also crucial.”
  • “Veterans will benefit greatly from the Medicaid expansion.”
  • “Individuals with disabilities will also benefit greatly from the Medicaid expansion […]”
  • “The homeless will also benefit.”
  • “Adult females of child-bearing age without children will also benefit greatly from the Medicaid expansion, as will any children they have.”
  • “An often overlooked and unpopular population that will benefit from Medicaid expansion are prisoners released back into the community […]”

“The public interest calls for the Medicaid expansion to go into effect on January 1, 2014,” the brief opined, insisting that “Relators have only an ideological interest” in preserving Ohio’s constitutional separation of powers.

After warning that Ohioans will die without Medicaid expansion, the brief then asserted that Medicaid expansion is financially beneficial to the State of Ohio, citing as evidence the Health Policy Institute of Ohio’s ridiculous January study.

“The suggestion by Relators of increased net costs to Ohio as a result of the expansion is a hoax,” the brief sniped.

Medicaid expansion is the only hope for regular medical care for individual adults in Ohio below the Federal Poverty Level, the kind of medical care most of us take for granted,” the brief continued (emphasis in the original).

As Media Trackers, The Buckeye Institute, Opportunity Ohio, and national free market groups have explained since Gov. Kasich announced his support for adding hundreds of thousands of Ohioans to the Medicaid rolls, there is substantial evidence Medicaid coverage does not improve recipients’ health.

Regardless, Medicaid’s efficacy is not at issue in the Ohio Supreme Court case brought by the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law on behalf of six Republican legislators and two Right to Life groups.

Gov. Kasich’s Department of Medicaid contravened the clear intent of the General Assembly by expanding Medicaid, and the Controlling Board — led by a Kasich appointee — appropriated over $2.5 billion in Obamacare funding with no legal authority.