Ohio Board OKs Medicaid Expansion, Lawsuits Loom

The state Controlling Board agreed Monday to Republican Gov. John Kasich's proposal to accept federal money to expand Medicaid to more than 275,000 Ohioans. Conservatives, however, are planning lawsuits over Kasich's circumvention of state lawmakers.

The New York Times: Medicaid Expansion Is Set for Ohioans
As a Republican chairman of the House Budget Committee in the 1990s, John R. Kasich wielded a ferocious budget ax. On Monday, as Ohio's governor, Mr. Kasich defied his party's majorities in the state legislature to push through a multibillion dollar expansion of Medicaid under President Obama's health care law (Gabriel, 10/21).

The Washington Post: Ohio Will Expand Medicaid After Months-Long Battle Between Governor And Legislature
Ohio agreed Monday to offer Medicaid to about 300,000 more low-income people, a major victory for Gov. John Kasich over fellow Republicans who control the state legislature and oppose the expansion. After nine months of battling with the state GOP's conservative wing, Kasich resorted to an uncommon maneuver in which he turned to a relatively obscure state board with power over certain budget decisions. The board voted to accept $2.55 billion in federal money to cover the cost of expanding Medicaid in Ohio through July 2015 (Goldstein, 10/21).

The Wall Street Journal: Ohio's Governor Pushes Through Medicaid Expansion
Mr. Kasich this year proposed adding an estimated 275,000 residents to the Medicaid rolls under the provision, in which the federal government would pay 100% of coverage costs through 2016. But the proposal didn't win support from Republican leaders in the legislature, where the party controls both chambers. Those Republicans have said they are concerned about the rising costs of the government health-care program (Peters and Radnofsky, 10/21).

Politico: Ohio OKs Obamacare Medicaid Expansion
An obscure Ohio board has approved Obamacare's Medicaid expansion, but a likely legal fight by furious conservatives is looming. The decision, 5-2, by the state Controlling Board to back expansion at the urging of Republican Gov. John Kasich would accept billions of federal dollars to extend coverage to an estimated 300,000 poor Ohioans. Kasich pursued a vote of the board after efforts to win over his Republican-led Legislature failed to gain traction (Cheney, 10/21).

Reuters: Ohio Panel OK's Medicaid Expansion In Win For Obamacare
An Ohio legislative panel on Monday voted in favor of the state expanding its Medicaid program for the poor in a victory for President Barack Obama's signature federal health reform law. The decision permits Governor John Kasich, a Republican who otherwise opposes the reform law known as the Affordable Care Act, to bypass the state's Republican-dominated legislature to expand Medicaid, a move strongly opposed by many Ohio conservatives (Palmer, 10/21).

The Hill: Ohio To Expand Medicaid Under ObamaCare
Ohio became the 25th state to approve Obamacare's Medicaid expansion Monday after a little-known legislative panel voted 5-2 in favor of the policy. The move ends months of debate that saw Republican Gov. John Kasich circumvent the state's GOP legislature and gain a way forward through the bipartisan Controlling Board (Viebeck, 10/21).

Modern Healthcare: Ohio's Plan To Expand Medicaid Advances
An Ohio legislative panel on Monday approved Republican Gov. John Kasich's plan to expand the state's Medicaid program under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. It is expected to provide health coverage for more than 275,000 low-income Ohio residents (Johnson, 10/21).

Cleveland Plain Dealer: Controlling Board Gives OK To Use Of Federal Money To Pay For Medicaid Expansion In Ohio
The state Controlling Board on Monday approved a spending request from Gov. John Kasich’s administration that clears the way for the state to expand Medicaid to cover Ohio’s working poor. ... The vote means that the state can start offering Medicaid health care insurance to people earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level beginning Jan. 1, 2014. The net change would be the addition of 275,000 uninsured Ohioans to the Medicaid program, [the state's director of Medicaid John] McCarthy said. The administration estimates that at least half of those people hold jobs that don't provide health plans. About 26,000 are veterans (Higgs, 10/22).

Cleveland Plain Dealer: Medicaid Expansion OK Marks A Long-Awaited Victory For Supporters, Grounds For A Fight Among Critics
Crucial support for expansion came from the business community, including traditionally GOP-friendly groups such as the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber of Commerce's Keith Lake said in a statement that expansion would help protect employers from the ACA's penalties and could create thousands of jobs, particularly in the health-care industry. "The question of whether or not to expand Medicaid is a complex one. However, doing so is ultimately the right decision," Lake said. 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 (Pelzer, 10/21).

The Columbus Dispatch: Vote Expands Medicaid; Opponents Vow To Sue
After months of debates, delays and political hand-wringing, Ohio will expand Medicaid to cover 275,000 low-income residents. But as soon as today, a conservative organization, possibly joined by House Republicans, may file a lawsuit to invalidate the vote yesterday by the seven-member Controlling Board, which approved by a 5-2 bipartisan vote a request to accept $2.56 billion in federal money for the expansion through June 2015 (10/21).

In other Medicaid news --

The New York Times' Economix Blog: Medicaid And The Incentive To Work
The Affordable Care Act is -- to state the obvious -- aimed at bolstering insurance coverage in the United States. But the law is so big that it will necessarily have widespread economic ramifications, economists think, including an effect on the labor market. For instance, the Congressional Budget Office has surmised that the law may lead more workers to choose early retirement, since they would not fear losing their insurance coverage if they did so. It might also lead certain employers to hire more part-time workers, to avoid the so-called "employer mandate" (Lowry, 10/21).

California Healthline: California May Learn From Other States In Move Toward Streamlined Enrollment
California is in the process of streamlining the eligibility and enrollment system for Medi-Cal, the state's Medicaid program. In July, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed into law two bills -- ABX1-1, by Assembly member John Pérez (D-Los Angeles), and SBX1-1, by Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina) -- that included provisions making it easier for California to use income data from existing state assistance programs to determine Medi-Cal eligibility. As California works to set up its new system, officials could take lessons from other states' experiences (Blasi, 10/21).

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