Controlling Board Approves Medicaid Expansion

Oct 21, 2013 - By a vote of 5-2, the State Controlling Board today approved the Kasich administration’s multi-billion dollar funding authorization request to expand Ohio’s Medicaid eligibility up to 138% of the federal poverty level.

"We applaud the Kasich Administration and legislators on the Controlling Board for extending Medicaid coverage to Ohio's working poor," said OOA President Robert L. Hunter, DO.  "The administration has been transforming Ohio's Medicaid Program over the past three years, and we will continue to be partners with the administration to make the program even more accountable and cost effective."

The seven-member Controlling Board approved Medicaid Director John McCarthy's request to spend $561.7 million of fedeeral funds in FY 2014 and nearly $2 billion in FY 2015  to extend program eligibility. The administration estimates the action will bring health insurance coverage to an additional 275,000 Ohioans beginning January 2014.

Prior to the meeting, Speaker of the House William Batchelder removed Rep. Ron Amstutz (R-Wooster) and Rep. Cliff Rosenberger (R-Clarksville) from the Controlling Board and replaced them with Rep. Ross McGregor (R-Springfield) and Rep. Jeff McClain (R-Upper Sandusky). Both Amstutz and Rosenberger were likely no votes and both aspire to become Speaker of the House when Batchelder is term limited next year.

McGregor voted for the action; McClain opposed it. Also supporting the action were Sen. Tom Sawyer (D-Akron), Rep. Chris Redfern (D-Port Clinton), Sen. Chris Widener (R-Springfield) and Controlling Board President Randy Cole. Sen. Bill Coley (R-Liberty Twp.) opposed the plan.

The Kasich administration released statements earlier this month saying that the most direct method for extending Medicaid coverage is via a Medicaid State Plan Amendment (SPA).  They said Ohio Law (ORC 5162.07) gives the state Medicaid Director express authority to seek an SPA without additional legislation, and in this case, federal funds, not state funds, will cover the expansion.  The Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services approved the amended Ohio Medicaid plan, Oct 10th.

Opponents to the expansion disagree with the Administration's interpretation, and a legal challenge is anticipated.  Last week, 39 Republican legislators in the Ohio House signed a protest challenging the request because it was not authorized by HB 59 (Biennial Budget). Twenty-one Republicans did not sign the document.

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