From The Plain Dealer report:
Medicaid expansion OK
marks a long-awaited victory for supporters, grounds for a fight among critics
[Oct 21, 2013] COLUMBUS, Ohio — Depending on who you talk to, Monday’s vote by the Ohio Controlling Board to approve $2.5 billion for Medicaid expansion was either a landmark victory for thousands in need of health care or an unconstitutional and unaffordable ballooning of big government.
Either way, the fight over whether Ohio should accept billions of federal dollars to extend health care to low-income residents is likely to continue, either in court or at the polls.
The 5-2 Controlling Board vote marked a culmination of a months-long push, led by Gov. John Kasich, to have the state accept the first chunk of an estimated $13 billion offered to it for Medicaid expansion under President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
When GOP lawmakers resisted taking the funding, Kasich instead turned to the little-known board to appropriate the money – at least, until legislators draw up a new state budget in two years. By accepting the money, 275,000 additional Ohioans will be eligible for Medicaid benefits starting Jan. 1, 2014, according to administration estimates. Currently 2.35 million people -- or about one out of every five Ohioans – are enrolled in Medicaid.
Crucial support for expansion came from the business community, including traditionally GOP-friendly groups such as the Ohio Chamber of Commerce.
Hospitals also aggressively pushed for the measure, worried that, among other things, that without Medicaid expansion, they would be left on the hook as federal aid for uninsured patients is decreased.
. . .However, critics said following the vote that passing expansion was hardly a mutual decision. At least one opponent is preparing to fight the expansion in court, while others vowed to make the issue a political liability for Kasich.
Maurice Thompson, executive director of the conservative 1851 Center for Constitutional Law, said his group hopes to quickly file a legal challenge with the Ohio Supreme Court, perhaps within 24 hours of the Controlling Board vote.
The suit will contend that the Controlling Board overstepped its authority by not adhering to the intent of the legislature, as required by Ohio law, Thompson said. He said he hadn’t yet nailed down who his plaintiffs would be in the case.
Ralph King, state co-coordinator for the Tea Party Patriots for Ohio, said tea party voters will also remember Monday’s vote when next year’s gubernatorial election comes around.
Kasich, he said, is “rolling the dice” that he’ll win over enough Democrats and independents to both re-elect him in 2014.
“It’s going to be huge. They thought people stayed at home for Mitt Romney…” King said, in reference to the failed 2012 GOP presidential nominee’s lackluster support among his party base.
In addition, he said, tea party groups around the country would fight "kicking and screaming" to destroy any dream Kasich might have about one day winning the presidency.
“If we have any say-so, maybe -- if there’s no shutdown at the time -- he’ll be lucky if he could be a tourist down at the White House,” King said.
Ohio House Speaker Bill Batchelder, a Medina Republican who's opposed expansion, said the Controlling Board vote wasn't about favoring or opposing the federal health-care law.
"Existing law gives the director of Medicaid the ability to set Medicaid eligibility levels without legislative involvement," the speaker said in a statement. "This has already been done by Governor Kasich's administration, and today's meeting of the Controlling Board is to ensure the solvency of the state's Medicaid program."
Read the rest here. Tea Party Patriots' phone calls to Columbus were ignored by Gov. Kasich and his cronies. Thanks to all who dialed and dialed.