House Makes History In Overriding Eleven Vetoes, But Most Controversial One Still Stands

Gov. John Kasich vetoed 47 items in the state budget when he signed it last week – the most he’d ever issued. But now only 36 of them stand. The House came back into session during their Independence Day break to override 11 vetoes on Thursday. That includes his rejection of their fix to a funding gap from the loss of a sales tax on Medicaid managed care organizations, or MCOs.The House also voted to require the state to ask for federal permission to charge premiums to certain Medicaid recipients. Kasich had vetoed that, saying the state had been denied that waiver last year. And the House also overrode Kasich’s veto of a provision giving state lawmakers the power to appoint members to the Ohio Oil and Gas Commission. That’s thought to be a door to allowing fracking in state parks, which Kasich opposes.

But the most noteworthy veto he put on the budget didn’t come up for an override vote – the freeze that lawmakers had put on Medicaid expansion enrollment for next year. Statehouse correspondent Jo Ingles reports.

Kasich has credited Medicaid expansion with helping Ohio fight its deadly opioid crisis, which experts are estimating claimed up to 4,000 Ohioans last year – though the state’s official numbers aren’t due out for a few weeks. That’s nearly 11 people a day dying of overdoses of heroin and opioid-based drugs. The final version of the budget put $176 million dollars more toward the battle against opioids than Kasich’s initial budget did.  Earlier this year Tracy Plouck, director of the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, talked about  the opioid war, which the state has said needs to be fought from the ground up - though communities are begging for more help from the state.

There are so many terrible angles to stories about the opioid crisis. One of them is the impact it’s having on kids. In the last seven years, the number of children taken into custody by children’s services agencies in Ohio soared by nearly 20 percent to nearly 14,000 kids in 2015. Parental drug use was involved with half of those, and a third of those kids had parents using opiates. Kids are staying in foster care longer and more children are being placed in permanent custody or being adopted than being returned to their parents, which is driving up foster care costs dramatically and creating shortages of foster homes. At the time, state funding had been falling, but in the just-passed budget, $60 million in new money was put into children’s services. Sharing their thoughts from earlier this year are Robin Reese is with Lucas County Children’s Services – in an urban county dealing with a variety of drug related problems, and Dr. Lorra Fuller with Scioto County Children’s Services – in a county at the epicenter of Ohio’s opiate epidemic.

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