Ripping health care coverage aways from millions of Americans is the mistress Republicans just can’t quit, in Ohio’s General Assembly or the U.S. Congress.
As news broke Sunday that U.S. Senate Republicans haven’t given up on their dream of devastating millions of people by denying the access to health insurance by repealing Obamacare, it turns out Ohio House Republican leadership also hasn’t given up on freezing Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. If they do, they will steal health care coverage away from 500,000 Ohioans over the course of about 18 months.
First, the U.S. Senate. From GQ:
Once again, the Republicans are trying to make good on their seven-year promise (to repeal and replace Obamacare). While Senate Democrats are lining up behind Bernie Sanders’ “Medicare for All” bill, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina has teamed up with Bill Cassidy, the Louisiana senator who in a fit of compassion coined the “Kimmel test,” for yet another bill aimed at dismantling the Affordable Care Act.
Mitch McConnell is quietly lining up his underlings to gauge support and potentially whip votes for the bill as soon as this coming week, according to a new report from Politico. Senate Republicans are also trying to rush the bill through the Congressional Budget Office with the hopes that they can have a score before a September 30 deadline. (After that, repeal efforts would require 60 votes.)
The bill would provide block grants to states while reducing the federal government’s involvement in the healthcare market and rolling back the Medicaid expansion. While that’s something for conservatives to get excited about, it isn’t likely to sit well with further right senators since it maintains some of Obamacare’s current taxes. Per Politico, Rand Paul is already a no (calling Graham-Cassidy “Obamacare lite”), as is potentially Susan Collins, one of the three Republican senators who doomed the last repeal effort earlier in the summer. If the bill loses one more Republican, it’s dead.
One wonders whether President Donald Trump’s dealing with Democrats has forced McConnell to give Obamacare-repeal one more shot to try to win him back. Once that CBO score hits, though, as with every other Republican plan, it’s not a matter of if millions of Americans will lose health care coverage thanks to the GOP, but how many millions.
In Ohio, the office of House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger has put out a memo ostensibly to gauge where his caucus is on freezing Medicaid, though it reportedly contains no small amount of argument in favor of screwing over hundreds of thousands of Ohioans on their health insurance.
The Ohio House is again weighing an override of Republican Gov. John Kasich’s veto protecting Medicaid expansion after scrapping the idea in July.
A memo circulating among House Republicans said GOP Speaker Cliff Rosenberger “would just like to see” where his caucus members stand now that efforts to repeal the federal health care law in Washington appear indefinitely stalled. The memo, obtained by the Associated Press, gave a reply deadline of 5 p.m. Sunday but added: “This does not mean the veto override will be on the floor this week.”
Kasich vetoed a budget provision June 30 that called for freezing new Medicaid expansion enrollment starting July 1, 2018, and preventing those who drop off the program from re-enrolling.
If you’ll recall, Rosenberger said at the time the Ohio House overrode 11 other Kasich vetoes that he had the 60 votes to freeze Medicaid but wanted to see how the national repeal of Obamacare went. Even with the Graham-Cassidy last-ditch attempt this year, it’s hard to imagine Rosenberger will wait and see any longer.
It might be October. It might be November. It might be December. But don’t sleep on Ohio Republicans’ desire and ability to be unconscionably cruel to poor people. What the national GOP can’t destroy, Ohio Republicans can be counted upon to do so themselves.
More from the AP:
More than 700,000 low-income adults are now covered under Ohio’s expansion, at a cost of almost $5 billion — most of which is picked up by the federal government. The Kasich administration has estimated that 500,000 Ohioans could lose coverage under a freeze within the first 18 months.
The memo lays out a strenuous case against expansion — including by reviving some arguments disputed during the original debate.
Lawmakers are told that, if they override the veto, coverage would still be available under Medicaid expansion for those diagnosed with mental illness or drug addiction.
The Governor’s Office of Health Transformation has said the federal government will not allow Ohio, or any state, to serve one specific group and not others so, the state contends, either all those eligible will keep cover or lose it.
The article concludes with more back-and-forth. Ohio House Republicans (like all Republicans all the time when they don’t like something) argue it costs too much money. The Kasich Administration, which has so far supported Medicaid expansion, notes that Medicaid spending, the largest portion of Ohio’s state budget, has come in under budget by a combined $3.6 billion the past two fiscal years.