Just before the end of the year, the 10th District Court of Appeals granted the Strickland Administration a major legal victory in its quest to use tobacco settlement funds to improve access to affordable health care in Ohio.  The tobacco settlement trust funds, which were appropriated by the General Assembly to fund Strickland’s health care initiative, were stayed by a Franklin County Court of Common Pleas judge as unconstitutional.  The 10th District Court of Appeals reversed finding that the legislature’s appropriation of those funds was constitutional.

The Tenth District still kept a stay in place preventing the State from using the funds until the matter has completely concluded at the trial court level.

Once the stay is lifted, Governor Strickland says, the funds will be used to do a number of things to improve access to health care in Ohio.

From the Governor’s press release:

?Today?s unanimous ruling by the 10th District Court of Appeals reaffirms our position that it is within the authority of the governor and general assembly to appropriate and expend state resources in line with the state’s funding priorities,? Strickland said. ?Among those priorities are providing access to children’s health care and critical health services for adult Ohioans.  I am hopeful that the courts will work expeditiously to finalize this case so we can utilize these needed funds.?

Optional Services under the Medicaid program: $130 million

? Cover children in families making up to 300 percent of federal poverty level
under SCHIP: $30.0 million

? Children?s Medicaid buy-in: $2.2 million

? Breast and Cervical Cancer Screenings: $3.4 million

? Title XX Child Welfare (county subsidies): $92.0 million

You may recall that in Governor Strickland’s first budget, he called for expanding access to health care by expanding SCHIP expansion to families up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level which was denied by the Bush Administration.  The Democratic Congress and President Obama enacted into law changes in SCHIP that made the Strickland Administration’s possible once the legal dispute over the tobacco settlement funds was resolved.