Senate President Warns Kasich May Bankrupt Ohio’s Medicaid Program
Ohio Senate President Keith Faber (R-Celina) yesterday reiterated his concern that Governor John Kasich may bankrupt the state’s Medicaid program if the Ohio Controlling Board rejects Kasich’s request to spend Obamacare funding.
“If we don’t move the [Obamacare] money from the federal funds account and authorize it to go over to the Medicaid account, Medicaid goes bankrupt,” Sen. Faber told reporters in an October 15 exchange filmed by Youngstown Vindicator reporter Marc Kovac.
Last month, the Kasich Administration submitted a Medicaid state plan amendment to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) requesting to expand Ohio’s Medicaid program to cover the new population set by Obamacare. HHS approved the amendment on October 10.
Gov. Kasich has not issued an executive order to enact the Obamacare expansion, but Sen. Faber suggested yesterday that Kasich would need to do so to expand eligibility.
Faber warned that if the Kasich Administration expands Medicaid and the Controlling Board refuses to appropriate Obamacare funds, ”current Medicaid recipients — you know, kids and moms and people that are currently covered under the Medicaid program — would not have services.”
“I don’t think that’s necessarily a good result, and so I would imagine the Controlling Board on Monday will give the governor authority to move [Obamacare money] from that federal line to the state line.”
A week earlier, the staunchly pro-expansion Columbus Dispatch reported that Sen. Faber had made similar comments. Dispatch reporter Jim Siegel speculated, “could GOP legislative leaders who have thus far resisted expansion argue that they are being forced to go along – or else bankrupt a system that serves 2.4 million Ohioans?”
Asked on October 15 whether he believes the Obamacare Medicaid expansion will be good for Ohio, Sen. Faber indicated surrender to the Republican governor.
Faber said he did not plan to replace either of the two state senators who serve on the seven-member Controlling Board, and declined to say how he expects any member of the board to vote.
“I don’t know that I would’ve necessarily been a fan of expanding Medicaid, but that’s not the question anymore,” Faber told reporters. ”Now the question is how do we do Medicaid reforms that are going to make the system more efficient, more effective, and provide coverage to more people for less money.”
Asked to explain why he would “go along with” the Obamacare Medicaid expansion after months of opposition from conservatives, Faber said, “I don’t know that we’re doing the Medicaid expansion — the governor is doing the Medicaid expansion.”
Faber explained that Medicaid consumed 16.9 percent of Ohio’s budget in 1980 and 50.2 percent of the state budget this year.
“That’s a dramatic change,” Faber said. “It’s a change that’s stopping our ability to educate kids, it’s a change that’s stopping our ability to maintain our roads, it’s a change that’s stopping everything else we wanna do in Ohio to move the state forward.”
“Adding more people to that problem isn’t going to make the number less than 50.2 percent, and so we need to manage that problem through reform,” he continued.
The Obamacare Medicaid expansion is expected to increase Ohio’s annual Medicaid costs by nearly half a billion dollars by 2020, assuming DC keeps its impossible funding promises.
“I believe in legislative issues, but on this issue, the legislature’s given the governor authority a number of years ago,” Sen. Faber said. ”We tried to take that authority away in the budget; the governor used his line-item veto to keep his authority, and so I think he can do it.”
The Ohio Revised Code dictates that the Controlling Board, however, “shall take no action which does not carry out the legislative intent of the general assembly.”
In February, Gov. Kasich included the Obamacare Medicaid expansion in his biennial budget plan only to have the proposal removed by the Ohio House.
As Sen. Faber acknowledged yesterday, both houses of the legislature expressed their opposition to Medicaid expansion with budget language forbidding it.
Ohio’s major newspapers — whose editors continue to self-righteously demand billions per year in new entitlement spending — also recognize that Gov. Kasich turned to the Controlling Board because the legislature has no intention of expanding Medicaid.
With Sen. Faber now repeatedly suggesting the governor will threaten to bankrupt Ohio’s Medicaid program in order to extend eligibility to hundreds of thousands of able-bodied childless adults, John Kasich’s governing style is converging ever more rapidly with Barack Obama’s.