The Toledo Blade reports that the Ohio Supreme Court is set to decide before the end of the year whether Governor Kasich had the authority to enact Obamacare-directed Medicaid expansion via the Controlling Board.
Proponents of Medicaid expansion representing hospitals, religious organizations, business and labor groups have filed numerous briefs in support of expansion. According to the Toledo Blade, however, the briefs focus on what the proponents perceive as the moral and economic aspects of the issue rather than the constitutional ramifications of the Controlling Board’s decision.
The Blade rightly notes,
“But how much will such arguments factor into the decision of a court whose majority members have said it is their job to interpret the letter of the law and gauge the intent of lawmakers, not to substitute their own judgement?”
Indeed, the brief filed by case’s plaintiffs, six GOP lawmakers and two Right to Life groups, clearly states what is at issue before the Court,
“Despite … sharp political overtones associated with expansion of Medicaid spending and eligibility in Ohio, this case is not about whether the controversial and highly contested expansion is wise public policy. Rather, the salient and critical legal issue before the Court is whether the Executive Branch of government may effectuate such a major policy change administratively — not only without a vote of the Ohio General Assembly, but over the objections of the General Assembly.”
Since the Controlling Board’s vote, the General Assembly continues to speak out against the ruling. Senator Chris Widener, one of the “yes” votes in the Controlling Board’s October decision, sponsored legislation which passed the Senate in November that would block the Board from authorizing expenditures that exceeded one percent of the general revenue fund – expenditures such as Medicaid expansion.
In a Record-Courier article, Senator Larry Obhof who supported Widener’s measure is quoted as stating,
“Legislative power belongs to the legislature, not some other body, even if that body has some members who are also members here.”
Similar legislation, introduced by Representative Ron Young is pending in the House. Rep. Young told the Cleveland Plain Dealer that House GOP leadership supports his bill.
So it seems House and Senate leadership and some Controlling Board members who made way for the Controlling Board’s questionable approval of Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion knew what they were up to was wrong all along. It’s just too bad for Ohioans that the consciences of these House and Senate leaders got the better of them after the Board’s vote rather than prior to it.
Meanwhile, the Columbus Dispatch reports that Healthier Ohioans Work has withdrawn their ballot initiative to put Medicaid expansion before the voters. The fact that the group would take such an action less than a month before the Supreme Court rules on Governor Kasich’s use of the Controlling Board is odd and Ohioans can only hope it is not a harbinger of the Court’s result.