Gov. John Kasich got his hand slapped Friday by federal officials for trying to force people poor enough to qualify for Medicaid to dig deeper into their already tapped wallets to prove they are personally responsible for their health care actions.
Ohio’s lame duck governor who ran and lost 49 state Republican contests this year, and who refuses to pay back taxpayers for the costs incurred protecting him this year on the presidential campaign trail, has for decades blathered about personal responsibility for everyone, it seems. but himself and a close knit kitchen cabinet of political operatives and others who earn a living through Mr. Kasich’s political coattails.
The governor’s Healthy Ohio Plan would charge Medicaid beneficiaries premiums, something not required now, that could potentially stop the flow of health care benefits through the federal/state program for the poor, that mostly impacts women and children, if two monthly payments were missed.
Ohio’s senior senator in Washington, Sherrod Brown, who advocated for a denial of Kasich’s proposed rule waiver, applauded the decision. “This news is a victory for working parents, foster youth, and caretakers across Ohio who would have faced unfair changes to coverage and costs under this destructive plan,” he said, The Toledo Blade reported. The two-term senator who’s been a big advocate of Obamacare and expanding Medicaid, added, “Ohioans spoke out loud and clear against this plan and today’s news proves what a difference the people can make when they make their voices heard.”
Mr. Kasich and his breed of social conservatives don’t like government in general, as they try when they can, through legislation or administrative rules, to subjugate the will of the people to the will of corporations. When hard times come, as they have under a Kasich administration that can’t create enough good paying jobs for those who want them, Ohio’s 69th governor thinks that’s the right time, when options are limited, to ring out a little more self-sufficiency in order to wean able-bodied working adults off the program.
It doesn’t take a political science major to understand the mean-spirited belief central to austerity minded, budget balancers like Gov. Kasich. Still others see it for what it is, another stealth attempt to undermine the Affordable Care Act. Gov. Kasich, let us recall, did an end run around his otherwise friendly Republican legislature to tap into $2.5 billion of Medicaid funds made through the ACA..
Federal officials from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services put the kibosh on Ohio’s request from a waiver of federal rules. “We are concerned about the state’s request to charge premiums, regardless of income, to the 600,000 individuals in Ohio’s new adult group, as well as hundreds of thousands of low-income parents, foster-care youth, and beneficiaries with breast and cervical cancer,” Andrew M. Slavitt, the center’s acting administrator wrote in rejecting that waiver, the Blade reported.
Some bitter medicine delivered by the Kasich Administration in the proposal would exclude individuals from coverage indefinitely until they pay all arrears, a policy Mr. Slavitt said has not been authorized any state. Apparently at ease with the loss of significant numbers had the plan been approved, administration calculations on that number was about 125,000 people would gain be without healthcare coverage.
Reports say Kasich’s plan to the federal government was more expansive than originally proposed. A Kasich spokesman told one reporter that “encouraging personal responsibility in health care is key to helping individuals move up and off of Medicaid. Look for Ohio’s term-limited governor to collaborate with his very Republican General Assembly to find alternative methods to achieve the same ends.
The original proposal would levy a monthly premium of $20 on a population of roughly 120,000 to 130,000 people earning just above the federal poverty threshold. To show the plan could get worse, GOP lawmakers used their creativity to sock enrollees with up to 2 percent of their annual adjusted incomes, capped at $99 a year, or $8.25 per month, that would flow into a health savings account. Forcing low-income people to comply essentially means they are self-funding an account to use to pay deductibles for health services ahead of Medicaid paying the costs.
Gov. Kasich’s bitter medicine would come in the form of being kicked off the rolls if two monthly premiums were missed. Coverage would not be restored until accounts were corrected.