Ohio

Ohio House Republicans Protest Kasich’s Medicaid Expansion Gambit

Policy John Adams
Ohio Representative John Adams (R-Sidney)

Republican members of the Ohio House of Representatives have filed a protest letter against Republican Governor John Kasich’s attempt to unilaterally expand Ohio’s Medicaid program and pressure the Ohio Controlling Board to spend the resulting Obamacare funds.

According to Assistant Majority Floor Leader John Adams (R-Sidney), the following 38 representatives — including both House Republicans on the Controlling Board, as well as every member of majority leadership except Medicaid expansion supporter Rep. Barbara Sears (R-Monclova Twp) — signed the letter.

  1. Speaker Batchelder District 69
  2. Speaker Pro Tempore Huffman District 4
  3. Assistant Majority Floor Leader John Adams District 78
  4. Majority Whip Cheryl Grossman District 23
  5. Assistant Majority Whip Jim Buchy District 84
  6. Representative Lou Terhar District 30
  7. Representative Jim Butler District 41
  8. Representative Louis Blessing III District 29
  9. Representative Kristina Roegner District 37
  10. Representative Michael Henne District 41
  11. Representative Terry Blair District 42
  12. Representative Wes Retherford District 51
  13. Representative Margaret Conditt District 52
  14. Representative John Becker District 65
  15. Representative Doug Green District 66
  16. Representative Margaret Ann Ruhl District 68
  17. Representative Bill Hayes District 72
  18. Representative Tony Burkley District 82
  19. Representative Robert Sprague District 83
  20. Representative Andy Thompson District 95
  21. Representative Ron Amstutz District 1
  22. Representative Tim Derickson District 53
  23. Representative Rick Perales District 73
  24. Representative Terry Boose District 57
  25. Representative Jeff McClain District 87
  26. Representative Ron Maag District 62
  27. Representative Mark Romanchuck District 2
  28. Representative Pete Beck District 54
  29. Representative Cliff Rosenberger 91
  30. Representative Ron Hood District 78
  31. Representative Matt Lynch District 76
  32. Representative Christina Hagan District 50
  33. Representative Dave Hall District 70
  34. Representative Andrew Brenner District 67
  35. Representative Marilyn Slaby District 38
  36. Representative Peter Stautberg District 27
  37. Representative Rex Damschroder District 88
  38. Representative Stephanie Kunze District 24

Signatories expressed their belief that Ohio Department of Medicaid Director John McCarthy’s request to the Controlling Board “does not carry out the clear intent of the General Assembly as indicated in its passage of Am. Sub. House Bill 59 and should be denied.”

That Controlling Board members Rep. Amstutz and Rep. Rosenberger signed the letter reinforces opposition both have voiced to appropriating Obamacare funds contrary to legislative intent.

Furthermore, the fact that Rep. Batchelder also signed the protest letter undercuts optimism from The Columbus Dispatch and other proponents of the Obamacare Medicaid expansion that the speaker would replace shuffle the Controlling Board’s membership to hand Gov. Kasich votes.

“The Ohio Constitution grants legislative authority solely to the Ohio General Assembly, an authority which cannot be delegated,” the House Republicans added after citing section 127.17 of the Ohio Revised Code, which requires the Controlling Board to act only pursuant to legislative intent.

“This request is thinly-veiled legislation creating new eligibility levels and funding levels for Medicaid. In fact, the request itself admits as such.”

“The General Assembly is a co-equal branch of government that made its intent abundantly clear,” the letter continued. “The controlling board request attempts to subvert that intent, and is contrary to the Ohio Constitution and current statutory law. For all these reasons, we protest the filling of the above described controlling board request.”

This spring, the House removed the Obamacare Medicaid expansion from Gov. Kasich’s budget for fiscal years 2014-15.

Both the Ohio House and Ohio Senate later passed a budget provision forbidding the state from expanding Medicaid as called for in Obamacare.

The protest as posted to Rep. Adams’s Facebook page this afternoon follows.

We, the undersign members of the Ohio House of Representative, hereby protest the filing of a controlling board request by the Director of Medicaid, John McCarthy, seeking to appropriate additional funds specifically not appropriated in the prevailing appropriation act of the 130th General Assembly, Amended Substitute House Bill 59.

Specifically, the request seeks to expand Medicaid by making an “appropriation [that] would provide Medicaid coverage to adults without dependent children between 0% – 138% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) and parents otherwise not covered by current Medicaid eligibility levels up to 138% FPL.” (emphasis added). However, the request does not carry out the clear intent of the General Assembly as indicated in its passage of Am. Sub. House Bill 59 and should be denied.

Pursuant to R.C. 127.17, “[t]he controlling board shall take no action which does not carry out the legislative intent of the general assembly regarding program goals and levels of support of state agencies as expressed in the prevailing appropriation acts of the general assembly.” In State ex rel. Meshel v. Keip, 66 Ohio St. 2d 379 (1981), the Ohio Supreme Court applied R.C. 127.17 to declare a nullity an action by the Controlling Board that was contrary to the clear intent of the General Assembly.

Here, the clear intent of the Ohio General Assembly not to appropriate the funds contained in the request was expressed in its prevailing appropriation act, Am. Sub. HB 59:

1. The General Assembly included the following prohibition in Am. Sub. HB 59: “The medicaid program shall not cover the group in the “Social Security Act,” section 1902(a)(10)(A)(i)(VIII).”(emphasis added). The requested appropriation seeks “[t]o cover individuals listed under Section 1902(a)(10)(A)(i)(VIII) of the Social Security Act” (emphasis added);

2. The General Assembly added over $400M in additional Medicaid funding to Am. Sub. HB 59 as a result of removing from the budget the same appropriation currently being requested by the Director of Medicaid;

3. The General Assembly did not appropriate any funds “[t]o cover individuals listed under Section 1902(a)(10)(A)(i)(VIII) of the Social Security Act, even though estimated state costs to do so are $13 to $22M

The Ohio Constitution grants legislative authority solely to the Ohio General Assembly, an authority which cannot be delegated. This request is thinly-veiled legislation creating new eligibility levels and funding levels for Medicaid. In fact, the request itself admits as such.

Our protest is not about the merits or lack of merit in expanding Medicaid. Our protest goes to the fundamental form of government upon which our country was founded – a Republic of checks and balances and separation of powers. The General Assembly is a co-equal branch of government that made its intent abundantly clear. The controlling board request attempts to subvert that intent, and is contrary to the Ohio Constitution and current statutory law. For all these reasons, we protest the filling of the above described controlling board request.

[Editor’s note: Added the list of signatories post-publication on 10/16; corrected Rep. Adams’s title on 10/17.]

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