Ohio

Gov. Kasich Moves to Bypass Legislature for Obamacare Money

Policy John Kasich
Ohio Governor John Kasich (R)

Governor John Kasich’s administration today requested the Ohio Controlling Board appropriate Obamacare funds for Medicaid expansion, an attempt to circumvent the General Assembly for billions in new entitlement funding from DC.

Despite the partial shutdown of the federal government, a plan amendment submitted to DC by Ohio Department of Medicaid Director John McCarthy to expand eligibility was approved on October 10.

As Statehouse insiders have speculated for weeks, the Kasich Administration will go to the Controlling Board on October 21 to make its case — although without an executive order from the governor, as was widely predicted.

Unfortunately for Gov. Kasich, the Controlling Board “shall take no action which does not carry out the legislative intent of the general assembly,” according to the Ohio Revised Code.

There is no indication the Obamacare expansion meets the “legislative intent” requirement of state law, and in fact the legislature expressly forbade Ohio from adopting the Obamacare Medicaid expansion with a provision of the biennial budget approved by both the House and Senate.

In June, Kasich used a line-item veto to override the General Assembly’s clear intent.

His attempted end run around the legislature is the starkest evidence to date that John Kasich, who was elected in 2010 as a limited government conservative, is less interested in freedom than in “free” money. By 2020, the Obamacare expansion is expected to increase Ohio’s annual Medicaid spending by nearly half a billion dollars.

Kasich has simultaneously expressed his confidence the state should expand Medicaid to hundreds of thousands of Ohioans — almost all able-bodied childless adults — and his confidence that Ohio will roll back the expansion if the federal government fails to keep its impossible funding promises.

The U.S. government is currently $16.7 trillion in debt not including unfunded entitlement liabilities; the best-case scenario from the State of Ohio’s perspective is that Kasich’s decision saddles the nation with billions per year in new bills it cannot pay.

Gov. Kasich first announced his support for the Obamacare Medicaid expansion as part of his budget plan released February 4. The policy is backed by a broad coalition of groups who found common ground in their desire for more taxpayer money.

After House conservatives stripped the Obamacare expansion from Kasich’s budget, the Ohio Hospital Association (OHA), labor unions, socialized medicine lobbyists, and a number of major chambers of commerce across the state redoubled their pleas for the new federal spending Medicaid expansion would bring.

Advocates for Ohio’s Future, a partnership of health care providers, unions, and leftist groups, has worked since February to pressure legislators into backing Gov. Kasich on Medicaid expansion, and sister organization “Healthy Ohioans Work” has begun gathering signatures to send the issue to the ballot.

Despite the efforts of an army of lobbyists and Ohio’s legacy media, who have made serious debate impossible by bashing opponents of the Obamacare Medicaid expansion as cruel ideologues, the Obamacare expansion has not received a floor vote in either the Ohio House or Ohio Senate.

Proponents of the Obamacare expansion insist Ohio’s hospitals desperately need more tax dollars, and have used veterans, drug addicts, and the mentally ill as props whose health and happiness supposedly require more federal entitlement spending.

Gov. Kasich, for his part, has abandoned all but the flimsiest pretense of fiscal responsibility, adopting the left’s talking points and even warning God will punish opponents of the Obamacare Medicaid expansion.

The Kasich Administration falsely insists Medicaid expansion in Ohio will be paid for entirely with “Ohio’s tax dollars,” which would go to other states as a result of Ohio refusing to enact the Obamacare expansion.

[Editor's note, 10/11/2013: Added a link to the complete controlling board request in the opening sentence.]

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