Ohio

Timeline: Ohio’s Obamacare Medicaid Expansion

Policy Jason Hart

Medicaid expansion was the biggest political issue in Ohio during 2013, as evidenced by the energy Governor John Kasich, the entitlement lobby, and the legacy press sank into securing billions in Obamacare funding.

For an overview of how the policy fight played out, refer to Media Trackers interviews with Brian Thomas on Cincinnati’s 55KRC from June 25August 29October 17, and October 24.

A timeline of key dates follows. Click any of the dates below for more details.

Keep in mind that while Gov. Kasich was expanding Ohio’s biggest entitlement program to get Obamacare money from DC, the law was collapsing nationally and the Obama Administration was rewriting huge portions of it.

March 22, 2010
As a candidate for governor, John Kasich says the Obamacare Medicaid expansion will “stick states with large and unsustainable costs.”
August 20, 2011
“Government shouldn’t be making promises it can’t keep – especially when it’s more than $14.5 trillion in the hole,” Gov. Kasich says during the Republican Weekly Address.
June 28, 2012
The U.S. Supreme Court rules that DC can’t withhold existing Medicaid funding from states that reject the Obamacare Medicaid expansion. This gives Ohio the freedom to refuse to put hundreds of thousands of able-bodied childless adults on Medicaid.
January 15, 2013
A Health Policy Institute of Ohio (HPIO) study concludes that the Obamacare expansion would create jobs and improve the state’s finances. Ohio’s newspapers hail the study, citing it in their endorsements of Medicaid expansion and in coverage of the topic throughout the year.
January 18, 2013
Opportunity Ohio releases comments from conservative health policy experts at The Heritage Foundation, The Galen Institute, and Cato Institute advising against Medicaid expansion. Ohio’s legacy media ignore the release.
January 31, 2013
The Buckeye Institute publishes a policy brief opposing the Obamacare expansion and pointing out numerous flaws in HPIO’s recent study. The media ignore Buckeye’s work.
February 4, 2013
With the national debt $2 trillion higher than it was in August 2011, Kasich introduces a budget including the Obamacare Medicaid expansion. Kasich’s budget plan says the expansion is necessary to help Ohio’s hospitals, “avoids leaving Ohioans’ federal tax dollars on the table,” and can be rolled back if DC cuts funding.
February 6, 2013
After being ridiculed at RedState and at National Review Online, Gov. Kasich submits his first-ever post to RedState, defending Medicaid expansion as a way “to limit further damage from Obamacare” and falsely insisting “there’s nothing we at the state level can do” to stop Obamacare spending.
February 12, 2013
The Ohio Liberty Coalition threatens to back primary campaigns against Ohio General Assembly members who support Medicaid expansion.
February 14, 2013
In testimony before the Ohio House, the director of Kasich’s Office of Health Transformation repeats Kasich’s false claim that federal Medicaid expansion spending cannot be stopped.
February 19, 2013
In his State of the State address, Gov. Kasich claims the Obamacare expansion will “bring $13 billion of Ohio’s tax dollars back to Ohio,” warning, “if we don’t do what we should do on Medicaid, they’ll be spending it in California.” Kasich insists expanding Medicaid is the Christian thing to do, accusing the policy’s critics of wanting to “walk away from” poor Ohioans and “leave ‘‘em out in the street.”
March 5, 2013
In a Mercatus Center report, Medicare Trustee Charles Blahous warns states not to expand Medicaid because DC cannot keep its funding promises. Blahous’s report gets zero coverage from Ohio’s legacy press.
March 11, 2013
A Media Trackers study of nonprofit hospitals’ charity care funding shows that Obamacare’s phase-out of charity care offsets would have little impact on most Ohio Hospital Association (OHA) members, regardless of whether Ohio expands Medicaid.
March 13, 2013
A panel of conservative health policy experts testifies before the Ohio House. Buckeye Institute President Robert Alt cites our charity care funding study, Cato Institute’s Michael Cannon refutes Kasich’s Obamacare funding claims, and both present evidence that Medicaid does not improve recipients’ health. Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA) President Tarren Bragdon shares proof that Medicaid expansions in other states have failed spectacularly. The Columbus Dispatch devotes less than 200 words to the panel, which other legacy media outlets simply ignore.
March 14, 2013
Gov. Kasich addresses an Obamacare Medicaid expansion rally organized by health care companies and socialized medicine advocates, to fawning coverage from the Dispatch.
April 11, 2013
Labor unions, the health care industry, and socialized medicine lobbyists hold another rally demanding legislators expand Medicaid.
April 18, 2013
The Ohio House passes House Bill 59, the biennial budget, with no Medicaid expansion. The House-approved version of the budget expresses clear opposition to the Obamacare expansion, with an amendment calling for the state to reduce Medicaid enrollment as well as state and federal Medicaid spending.
May 1, 2013
A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine finds that Medicaid coverage does not improve recipients’ health. Ohio’s old-media reporters decline to acknowledge the study at all.
June 12, 2013
Opportunity Ohio and FGA release a 30-page paper detailing problems with the Obamacare Medicaid expansion and offering conservative alternatives. The paper is ignored by the press.
June 18, 2013
Answering questions from reporters, Gov. Kasich reiterates his belief that Medicaid expansion is what God wants. Kasich suggests that anyone opposing him on the policy will likely go to Hell.
June 30, 2013
Gov. Kasich signs the final version of the budget bill, line-item vetoing a ban on Medicaid expansion that was passed by both the House and Senate.
July 2013
A National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) working paper released in July concludes that expanding Medicaid is likely to reduce a state’s workforce, employment, and the number of citizens with private health insurance. Aside from a passing reference in the Dispatch in mid-October, the press ignores the NBER paper.
July 9, 2013
Gov. Kasich addresses another Statehouse rally for Medicaid expansion.
July 9, 2013
Gov. Kasich tells reporters the Obamacare expansion “is not about Obamacare,” adding, “Medicaid expansion is no different than the current Medicaid program, and to try to tie Medicaid to Obamacare, I don’t see the connection.”
August 26, 2013
The Buckeye Institute releases another report, “Medicaid: Waivers Are Temporary, Expansion is Forever,” which receives almost no attention from Ohio’s legacy press.
September 16, 2013
Kasich again tells reporters that Medicaid expansion will “get our money back” and is “what the Lord wants,” asserting that “some people’s motives is not proper here” when asked about conservative critics of the Obamacare expansion.
September 26, 2013
The director of Kasich’s Department of Medicaid secretly requests a State Plan Amendment from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to expand Medicaid as set forth in Obamacare.
September 28, 2013
The Buckeye Institute and Media Trackers discuss the Obamacare Medicaid expansion during a panel at the We the People Convention in Columbus. The Dispatch covers the day-long event but diligently ignores our presentations.
October 10, 2013
HHS approves the Kasich Administration’s request to implement the Obamacare Medicaid expansion.
October 11, 2013
Kasich’s Medicaid director requests the Ohio Controlling Board appropriate over $2.5 billion in Obamacare money to fund Medicaid expansion through the end of the biennium.
October 15, 2013
Ohio Senate President Keith Faber (R-Celina) tells reporters that if the Controlling Board doesn’t appropriate the Obamacare funds, Ohio’s Medicaid program will go bankrupt.
October 16, 2013
Almost 40 House Republicans sign a formal protest letter against Gov. Kasich’s attempt to circumvent the legislature.
October 16, 2013
At a Buckeye Institute event, Dennis Smith — a former head of the Center for Medicaid and State Operations at the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services — refutes the Kasich Administration’s oft-repeated Obamacare funding claims.
October 21, 2013
Led by a Kasich appointee, the Controlling Board grants the Kasich Administration its Obamacare appropriation request after Kasich’s Medicaid director tells the board that failure to do so will bankrupt Ohio’s Medicaid program.
October 22, 2013
Represented by the libertarian 1851 Center for Constitutional Law, 6 House members and 2 Right to Life groups file a complaint with the Ohio Supreme Court to overturn Kasich’s end-run around the General Assembly.
October 27, 2013
Gov. Kasich repeats his false Obamacare Medicaid expansion funding rhetoric during a national interview on NBC.
November 14, 2013
In 2 separate speeches, President Obama praises Gov. Kasich’s embrace of the Obamacare Medicaid expansion as proof Obamacare works.
November 15, 2013
Gov. Kasich repeats his false Obamacare funding claims during a national Fox News interview, also insisting that the court case against his Controlling Board maneuver is the work of “people on the outside.”
December 9, 2013
Ohio begins enrolling Medicaid recipients eligible under the Obamacare expansion, with coverage to begin January 1, 2014.
December 18, 2013
Gov. Kasich repeats his false Obamacare funding talking points during a year-in-review speech at an Ohio Chamber of Commerce event.
December 20, 2013
The Ohio Supreme Court denies the writ requested on October 22.

See our analysis of Columbus Dispatch news and opinion coverage for a closer look at how horribly Ohio’s legacy media distorted this issue throughout 2013.

[Editor's note, 03/12/2014: For the sake of posterity, I added in a September 16 item that I just now realized I overlooked back in December.]

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