The Medicaid expansion passed the Ohio Controlling Board in a 5-2 vote, shepherded by Gov. Kasich. According to the Dispatch, the Senate GOP plans to use the savings to cut the state income tax (I guess they’re familiar with my work!1) while a number of right-wing groups plan lawsuits – just as we predicted.
To cut to the chase, Democrats should propose that we use the additional funds to 1) undo Kasich’s $677 million sales tax hike or 2) restore some of Kasich’s cuts to schools and local governments. In addition to being good policy, this has the added benefit of reminding people that Medicaid expansion saves the state money, and that Republicans raised your taxes.
The maneuver will qualify everybody earning up to $14,500 for a Medicaid plan, though it will expire in 2016. Eventually, legislative action will be needed to make the expansion permanent.
Of course, the lawsuit could necessitate legislative action a lot sooner if Right-Wing groups . The Controlling Board, as governed by the Ohio Revised Code,
shall take no action which does not carry out the legislative intent of the general assembly regarding program goals and levels of support of state agencies as expressed in the prevailing appropriation acts of the general assembly.
A lawyer we contacted described this argument as “deeply silly.” He explained that Legislative intent is something court looks at to determine the meaning of a statute. “In this case, since the Governor vetoed that portion of the budget bill, there is no statute to interpret.”
Meanwhile, Ohio Republicans have been rather muted on the move (again, following my advice). Kasich’s move will shield legislators from taking a vote on Medicaid. Insofar as only 38 Republicans signed a letter opposing expansion by the Controlling Board, it seems pretty likely that a vote to expand Medicaid would pass by a healthy margin.
1 Hopefully they read my post on immigration reform, too. “We deported your cousin because we were mad at the President” is a sure-fire way to make Latino-Americans vote with the propensity and partisanship of African-Americans.