OH – Budget Passed, Medicaid Freeze Vetoed
July 2017 ~
On June 28, the Ohio Senate approved the 2018-19 state budget bill in a vote of 24-8. On June 30, Governor John Kasich signed the 2018 state budget into law – vetoing 47 provisions. The Ohio House then voted, on July 6, to override 11 of the 47 line items vetoed.
One of the key items vetoed by Gov. Kasich was a Medicaid expansion enrollment freeze ordering the Governor to seek federal permission to suspend enrollment under the expansion beginning July 1, 2018, and to prevent those who drop out of the health care program from re-enrolling.
Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger stated that after talking to Kasich about working on other vetoed items, the House decided not to go forward with the freeze to give time for the health care debate to progress in Washington before acting. Rosenberger says the House still has until the end of Ohio’s two-year legislative session in December 2018 to make a decision.
“At this juncture, we want to give the federal government the summer to see if they’re going to come to a conclusion in Congress before we take action on moving forward with the freeze waiver and the request,” Rosenberger said.
The Kasich administration had estimated that 500,000 low-income Ohioans would lose health coverage within 18 months of a Medicaid freeze. Gov. Kasich praised House members and advocates who worked to avert the enrollment freeze, if temporarily, but he warned “risks remain.”
“A number of the actions taken by the House today threaten health care access for vulnerable Ohioans including seniors, people with disabilities, veterans and children, as well as Ohio’s hard-won budget stability,” he said in a statement. “When these actions begin to impact health care access for Ohioans, those who supported them will bear responsibility. As the saying goes: if you break it, you own it.”
The line items declined by the House restored provisions to allow legislators additional control over future Medicaid spending, revival of the Healthy Ohio program, which imposes additional Medicaid requirements that could bump 125,000 enrollees off the program, as well as restored a proposal to increase taxes on health insurers that would have sent money to counties and regional bus services. The 11 overrides will have to pass the Senate in order to become law.
Approximately 725,000 Ohio residents receive coverage through the state’s Medicaid program. The $132.8 billion, two year budget includes $65.5 billion in state general revenue funds.
Source(s): The Washington Times; Cleveland.com; U.S.News; Cleveland.com; The Ohio Dispatch;