The Dispatch reports that John Kasich has joined with other GOP Governors in signing a letter appealing to Congressional leaders to alter federal law, enacted as part of healthcare reform, prohibiting states from shrinking their Medicaid rolls from where they were when the law was passed.
Kasich, in the letter, claims the following:
The effect of the federal requirements is unconscionable; the federal requirements force Governors to cut other critical state programs, such as education, in order to fund a “one-size-fits-all” approach to Medicaid.
Except that it’s not true.
States aren’t forced into a one-size-fits-all approach. States have had a great deal of flexibility to set eligibility levels for the program as a whole and for the various services it offers.
The law simply states that eligibility cannot be rolled back below what it was, in each state, when the law was passed. It preserves the differences between states in who is eligible for coverage. It also allows states to drop optional services, such as dental coverage, or as we’ve seen in Arizona, for organ transplants. These are obviously tough choices, but ones which the states are still permitted to make.
Strickland expanded coverage during his term, both by through expanded eligibility, and also through additional services, such as Dental coverage. The Ohio Supreme Court recently ruled that tobacco settlement money could be used to enact these policies, but if Kasich were to choose to use the money in other ways (such as to fund education), he is free to do so.
Interestingly, at the end, the letter also spells out the impacts in each of the states signing on to the letter, except that no such detail was provided for Ohio. As we saw in their list of staff starting on Monday, the Kasich team has yet to bring on a policy expert on healthcare, so they still don’t know what they’re talking about. But that doesn’t stop them from blindly signing on to anything the national GOP asks them to.