Rep. Sears Tries to Pass Off Medicaid Expansion as Reform
Ohio Representative Barbara Sears (R-Monclova Twp.) announced legislation this week that would implement the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) Medicaid expansion, violating House-approved Medicaid reform language she introduced in April. Governor John Kasich and his allies in the legislature are eager for the new federal deficit spending a vast expansion of the entitlement program would bring to Ohio.
On April 18, proposing a budget amendment which directed the General Assembly to develop Medicaid reforms resulting in lower enrollment and reduced spending, Rep. Sears said, “We will be going to school on this issue over the summer.”
Scarcely one month later, Rep. Sears introduced legislation indicating she has no intention of adhering to those guidelines regardless of what the Ohio Senate does with the budget. Both the House and Senate are controlled by Republicans.
Her latest proposal would require the state “to implement Medicaid reforms that will identify ways to lower costs, reduce uncompensated care, and extend coverage to Ohios most vulnerable citizens,” Sears wrote in a May 22 press release.
Based on a review of the text Rep. Sears’s office provided to Maggie Thurber, a conservative communications consultant, the legislation shoehorns in the PPACA Medicaid expansion among a range of vague and specific cost-saving measures.
The Sears bill, which at publication was not yet listed by the Ohio Legislative Service Commission, would require Ohio to expand Medicaid pursuant to PPACA so long as “the medicaid program is able to cover the group or subgroup in a manner that causes per recipient medicaid expenditures to be reduced.”
Medicaid typically saves money by cutting payments to care providers – resulting in fewer and fewer doctors accepting Medicaid patients.
The Sears bill also clings to the assumption that Ohio could take billions in new federal funding by expanding Medicaid, but in the future “shall cease to cover the group, and any subgroup of the group” if “the federal medical assistance percentage for expenditures for medicaid services provided to the group or subgroup is lowered.”
A member of the Medicare Board of Trustess and numerous conservative health policy experts have warned that DC cannot possibly keep the funding promises which are the impetus for Ohio adopting the PPACA Medicaid expansion.
With Rep. Sears – as with Governor Kasich – policy guidance from Opportunity Ohio, the Cato Institute, The Heritage Foundation, The Buckeye Institute, the American Enterprise Institute, The Galen Institute, and the Foundation for Government Accountability has clearly fallen on deaf ears.
Despite mounting evidence that PPACA is a disaster and that Medicaid coverage does not improve health outcomes, Sears and Kasich want billions in new federal funding. Tying the PPACA Medicaid expansion to Medicaid reform is a cynical move crafted for short-term political gain.
None of the cost-saving measures Ohio may pursue would require the state to expand Medicaid to hundreds of thousands of people the program was never meant to cover.
No amount of reform is likely to save the billions per year the PPACA Medicaid expansion will cost state and federal taxpayers if it is implemented in Ohio.