The new proposed budget by the Republican led Ohio House of Representatives doesn't include an expansion of the Medicaid program. That was part of Republican John Kasich's proposed budget plan....and something he said was necessary to control future medical costs for the state. Democrats, in general, like the idea. But conservative Republicans don't. Ohio Public Radio's Jo Ingles reports the leader of the Ohio House is reluctant to say the Medicaid expansion is dead.
Governor Kasich’s plan includes an expansion of the Medicaid program that he says will make health care available to 275 thousand low income Ohioans while controlling costs and insuring federal reimbursements for hospitals in the future. But the newly proposed two year budget proposal in the Ohio House does not contain that Medicaid expansion. Republican House Speaker Bill Batchelder says there’s one reason why.
Batchelder – The House Republican caucus does not have clear enough vision of what is happening in Washington. If anyone here has a clear vision of what is happening in Washington, I’ll be in the hall. But I think at this point and time it’s clear that we are really not sure what regulations are coming and so forth so we really have to take the posture that at this point and time we cannot have a position on that.
So I asked Batchelder and Finance Committee Chairman Ron Amstutz to be more specific about the questions they had with the Medicaid expansion.
Amstutz – I think there are a couple of hundred places in the Affordable Care Act where it said to be determined by…and then it listed an agency.
Batchelder – You are seriously asking me….this is so screwed up.
Batchelder went on to explain he and other Republican leaders were unclear on what regulations the state might have to bear in the future…..and how much the state might have to pay in future years. Meanwhile, outside the Statehouse, some advocates for poor, uninsured Ohioans have questions of their own.
About two dozen people rallied, holding signs, on Capitol Square, urging lawmakers to expand the Medicaid program. Cassandra Barham, a breast cancer survivor from Cincinnati, doesn’t have health care. She says she brings home less than 500 dollars every two weeks…and because of her pre-existing condition, she cannot get health care that she can afford to purchase.
Barham = It’s unfair to us. Unfair. When I had health insurance, it was fine. When I got breast cancer, I was lucky enough to still have health care. But since I have pre-existing condition, it hurts me and I can’t get health care and this bill being passed would have definitely helped me.
Ohio Democratic Party Chair Chris Redfern says if this Medicaid expansion was passed, it would help many Ohioans. And Redfern says there’s one person to blame if lawmakers don’t pass it.
Redfern = It points out the inherent leadership style of John Kasich.
Redfern says Democratic members of the Ohio House support the Medicaid expansion….and he says if it’s allowed to proceed as a stand alone bill, it could pass the legislature without a lot of support from Republicans.
Redfern – Had he done a stand alone Medicaid bill and offered opportunities for the 39 Democrats in the House and the 10 Democrats in the Senate to come together and then went off and found the 6 or 7 votes he needed in the Senate and the 11 votes he needed in the House, we could have passed this with bipartisan support. He doesn’t 60 Republicans….he needs 11.
Redfern says Kasich has not worked to garner support for the expansion. Instead, Redfern says Kasich has spent the better part of two years trying to poison it.
Redfern – Two years throwing political bombs, attacking the president’s Medicaid expansion program and now he wonders why it failed. It failed because John Kasich didn’t show the leadership necessary to get it passed.
The Medicaid expansion might be failing at this moment but advocates for it say they’ll continue to put the heat on lawmakers to pass it. And the Ohio Senate has yet to officially weigh in on the issue. For his part, Governor Kasich has issued a statement saying it’s clear the support isn’t there right now among House Republicans to extend Medicaid coverage. But he says it’s the right thing for Ohio. Kasich says quote…..”not doing so will hurt our economy, make Obamacare’s impacts worse, and hurt vulnerable Ohioans who need care”….unquote. The Governro says he will continue to see this issue through to get lawmakers to pass the Medicaid expansion plan.