3/22/16 Ohio’s Time Bomb

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Medicaid has grown beyond its original role as a safety net for impoverished families with children. Now — under ObamaCare — young, childless, healthy adults can join Medicaid.

[In spite of billions of dollars spent on covering more people under Medicaid, a study released by the New England Journal of Medicine found that Medicaid coverage does not improve patient health.]

When Tennessee expanded Medicaid coverage years ago it learned a painful lesson.  Unemployment increased.  The availability of Medicaid and public welfare benefits was a strong incentive for young people to not bother working.  When Tennessee rolled back the expansion, unemployment fell.

In 2013, the Ohio legislature voted down Medicaid expansion.  So, Governor John Kasich bypassed state lawmakers and administratively adopted it.

[The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“ObamaCare”) mandated all states expand Medicaid.  But the Supreme Court struck down the Medicaid mandate as unconstitutional and left it to the discretion of the individual states on whether to expand Medicaid coverage.]

[The legislature stripped Kasich’s Medicaid expansion from the state budget he proposed.  So he skipped the legislative process and approached the state’s Controlling Board — comprised of 7-political appointees — to approve spending the funds.  To legislators, this appeared to be in violation of Ohio law.  State lawmakers sued Kasich for what they allege was an illegal act of obligating money without General Assembly approval.  The Ohio Supreme Court ruled in favor of the governor.]

[The Obama Administration lavished praise on Kasich for expanding the Medicaid in Ohio.]

The Kasich Administration projected 366,000 would enroll by June 2015.  600,000 signed up [There are more than 650,000 signed up today.]

This cost 1.5 billion dollars more than budgeted.  The federal government was stuck with the tab.  But starting next year, costs start shifting to Ohio taxpayers.  It’s likely federal reimbursement rates for expansion will revert to the traditional Medicaid formula.  If so, then Ohioans will be stuck with billions in new costs in coming years.  This will force lawmakers to raise taxes, slash other programs or both.

The state’s Medicaid spending was 17.7 billion dollars five years ago.  It’ll pass 24 billion this year.  And 28 billion next year.  A nearly 60% cost increase since Kasich took office.

[This is in spite of the worrisome reality that 28% of Ohio doctors are refusing to accept new Medicaid patients.]

In 2011, freshman Governor Kasich warned Ohio lawmakers of “runaway” Medicaid spending.  This year it’ 38% of state spending.  And growing.

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