The biennial budget has passed the Ohio Assembly minus Medicaid expansion.  A hearty congratulations goes out to all Ohio citizens who engaged in the battle to stop the extension of Medicaid, one of Obamacare’s many destructive components.

While we would like to call it a day, the fight is not over.  Governor Kasich and some members of the Ohio Assembly are still set on expanding Medicaid despite the myriad of sound arguments against it. The Ohio Assembly will adjourn for their summer break and then return in August to start work on Medicaid “reform” which is the latest strategy of Statehouse politicians to get Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion passed in Ohio.

The Medicaid reform proposals that have been introduced to date are:

HB 176 – sponsored by Representative Sears

HB 208 – sponsored by Representatives Amstutz and Sykes

SB 145 – sponsored by Senators Burke and Carfaro

HB 208/ SB 145 are a result of a bi-partisan reform effort between the House and Senate.  The bills as submitted are awaiting further detail of the actual reforms that will be proposed to improve our broken Medicaid system.  The sponsors are waiting on data from an outside firm which is performing some financial analysis as to whether changes can be made to the Medicaid system that would bend the cost curve down enough to allow for the expansion of Medicaid.

As Ohioans follow the Medicaid reform effort in the State Assembly, the following points should be kept at the forefront.

  • The only projection reported in the press for the expansion population is 275,000-366,000. These figures come from the Kasich administration and as the OLC has shown through three other highly respected sources, these numbers are grossly and purposefully understated.  The actual expansion population is between 684,000-848,000.  Unfortunately, not one member of the State Assembly has come forward to refute Kasich’s projection which is clearly an obvious fabrication to any informed party.  As such, reform efforts based on Kasich’s numbers are not serious.  OLC has shared this information with every Republican in the State Assembly. There can be no hiding behind Kasich’s egregious projection should the Assembly move forward with expansion.
  • The press openly reports that Medicaid reform is just a strategy to achieve Medicaid expansion. Moderate Republicans and Democrats know that conservatives want to reform Medicaid.  So expansion proponents are hoping to coax enough gullible Republicans to vote for their Medicaid reform which will quickly turn into an expansion express. Cincinnati.com clearly spells out the expansion strategy:

“In recent weeks, moderate Republicans and Democrats have adopted a strategy of avoiding controversy.  After first offering bills to take the federal money, as Gov. John Kasich recommends, they have introduced proposals aimed at giving conservative Republicans what they want, “reforms”… After they have conservatives’ support, leaders say they’ll work to expand Medicaid.”

  • Ultimately, Medicaid reform is about Ohio getting its hands on the Obamacare/ Medicaid expansion money which is reported to be $13 billion over seven years.  The federal dollars are available January 1st and any players late to the game will not receive their full allotment. You can bet that any reform will be declared a success immediately upon enactment. Ohio will then begin extending Medicaid to more participants and begin collecting the federal dollars that ensue.
  • The bi-partisan nature of the Medicaid reform bills, HB 208/ SB 145, should not be overlooked. To date, Democrats and Republicans have had very different goals for our health care system. Ohio citizens who truly want the Medicaid program to be reformed need to watch this process closely with a skeptical eye.
  • Cincinnati.com reports that Republican leadership has signaled that for a standalone bill to pass, it must have strong support within their caucus.

“But with tensions at times high between tea partiers and more moderate Republicans, leaders are wary of further dividing the caucus by voting on a bill that so many might oppose.” 

“I need to have a strong consensus in my caucus, not just a majority, Amstutz said.”

That Republican leadership requires a strong consensus to pass a standalone bill is a bit of good news for expansion opponents and signals the importance of our efforts to talk to State Reps and State Senators about our concerns.  We need to keep enough Republicans in our camp in order to defeat the reform bills should they make it to the floor for a vote.

If you have ever wondered if your political engagement makes a difference, our success to date on the Medicaid expansion issue proves that it does.  Your continued effort is needed to ensure that our victory stays in tact.  By keeping informed, remaining vigilant and contacting our representatives, we can defeat a stand alone Medicaid expansion bill and we can show Governor Kasich what real opposition to Obamacare looks like.

Further reading:

Statehouse Republicans Base Medicaid Reform on Fraudulent Numbers

Cincinnati.com article