The time is fast approaching when Governor Kasich will release his proposed budget for the 2016-2017 biennium. When he does, he is expected to include a two year renewal of Obamacare Medicaid expansion – the expansion you will remember which Kasich forced through the Controlling Board against the wishes of the state legislature.
Kasich has been beating the drum for the renewal of expansion for some months talking again about his faith driving him to help those in the shadows, especially individuals with mental illness and drug addiction.
Jason Hart of Watchdog.org points out that the Governor has come up with a new reason for expanding Medicaid – saving babies. But President Reagan already addressed this issue decades ago. Back in the 1980‘s, Reagan extended Medicaid to low-income pregnant woman, so how a present-day Medicaid expansion fights the infant mortality rate is anyone’s guess.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that Ohio’s infant mortality rate is nearly 30% higher than the national average. Kasich has proposed an initiative to bring down this statistic, but if he honestly wants to get at the root of the problem, he needs to acknowledge that infant mortality has been high in Ohio despite Medicaid being available to low-income pregnant woman for decades.
Meanwhile, members of the state legislature appear hesitant about getting behind a blanket Medicaid expansion. Lawmakers state they want to add work requirements to the program to avoid long-term dependency on Medicaid.
Senator Keith Faber told the Columbus Dispatch,
“We need to make sure we are providing opportunities for folks who need help. But at the same time (give) opportunities for them to become successful and independent.”
“We also can’t continue a plan that grows faster than inflation. That will consume the state budget.” (Emphasis added.)
Senator Dave Burke agrees. The Dispatch reports that he would like to see work requirements attached to Medicaid as well and a gradual reduction in benefits as income rises to eliminate the disincentive for people to find jobs or higher paying jobs.
Its good to see lawmakers appear to be pushing back on a blanket renewal of Obamacare Medicaid expansion which has hit 430,000 participants in Ohio as of October, well past the Kasich projection of 366,000 by July 2015.
At present the federal government is picking up the costs of the expansion, but by 2020, federal funding declines to 90 percent of the total cost, and perhaps an even smaller percentage should power brokers in Washington decide its time to finally address the national debt and move to adjust the cost-sharing of Medicaid expansion.
Ohioans should call their state representatives and state senators and tell them to say “No” to a renewal of Medicaid expansion. Tell them that expansion has far out-paced Governor Kasich’s false projections putting the State of Ohio in financial jeopardy in the long-run.