Ohio

Plain Dealer Coos Over Kasich and Obama’s “Clever Ideas” to Expand Medicaid

Media Cleveland Plain Dealer

“Gov. John Kasich’s staff, working with the Obama administration, is deploying imagination and flexibility to overcome shortsighted objections from some of Kasich’s fellow Republicans to Medicaid expansion in Ohio,” the editorial board of the Cleveland Plain Dealer wrote last month.

Two days after Senate President Keith Faber (R-Celina) signaled the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) Medicaid expansion would not be part of Ohio’s biennial budget, the Plain Dealer editors pretended a costly alternative floated a month earlier was a new plan “to overcome conservative griping.”

“The Ohio Plan” to spend even more taxpayer money expanding an ineffective entitlement program strongly resembles a Medicaid expansion plan Arkansas developed in concert with the scandal-ridden Obama White House.

In early April, Rep. Barbara Sears (R-Monclova Twp.) was still talking up the possibility of a “private option” approach to the PPACA Medicaid expansion. Many expected Rep. Sears to unveil some supposed U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) compromise during budget deliberations, but she did not.

Of the Arkansas plan, Manhattan Institute health policy expert Avik Roy wrote, “if you were cynical, you could imagine that HHS is trying to make a display of showing flexibility now, because the agency knows that it can withdraw that flexibility later on, after the coverage expansion has been implemented, and states have relinquished their negotiating power.”

After the Ohio House passed its version of the biennial budget on April 18, Plain Dealer reporter Brandon Blackwell wrote that Medicaid expansion was “down, but not out,” inaccurately describing a Sears amendment preventing Medicaid expansion as a lifeline to Medicaid expansion.

The Medicaid amendment approved by the House and seemingly supported by the Senate calls for the legislature to develop a package of reforms seeking to “Lower net state and federal costs for the Medicaid program” and “Reduce the number of individuals who enroll in Medicaid over time.”

Any version of the PPACA Medicaid expansion would dramatically increase state costs, federal costs, and Medicaid enrollment – all of which are expressly forbidden by the language passed in the Ohio House.

Facts didn’t stop the Plain Dealer editors from calling the amendment “a compromise” between “Kasich loyalists” and House Republicans “skittish about primary election challenges from the right fringe of the GOP,” suggesting an amendment written to prevent Medicaid expansion will do the exact opposite.

Describing the PPACA Medicaid expansion – which would increase Ohio’s Medicaid spending by at least $500 million per year by 2021 – as “a win-win for Ohio,” the Plain Dealer editors added, “If Ohio refuses to expand Medicaid, Ohioans would be helping pay for medical care for the poor in other states — but not for poor Ohioans. That’s the absurd result Kasich is striving to avoid.”

All PPACA Medicaid expansion funding from DC will be new deficit spending from a federal government more than $16.7 trillion in debt. Increasing national deficits by billions per year while adding hundreds of millions per year to Ohio’s Medicaid costs is the absurd result the Plain Dealer ridicules conservatives for opposing.

“If working with private insurers and casting Medicaid expansion as Medicaid reform can get expansion done, there’s no reason why Ohio shouldn’t go that route,” the Plain Dealer editorial board concluded on April 26. “Anything would be better than the dead end that GOP intransigents want to map for needy Ohioans.”

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