This week Ohio Controlling Board members voted to approve the Ohio Department of Medicaid’s request to increase appropriation authority by nearly $2.5 billion in federal funds through fiscal year 2015 for expanded Medicaid coverage for low income Ohioans.
Prior to the vote, House Speaker William Batchelder replaced Representatives Ron Amstutz (R-Wooster) and Cliff Rosenberger (R-Clarksville)—both presumed ‘no’ votes on the measure—with Representatives Ross McGregor (R-Springfield) and Jeff McClain (R-Upper Sandusky). The measure passed 5-2, with Senator Bill Coley (R-Liberty Township) and Representative McClain voting against increasing the appropriation.
Press releases distributed by Republican leadership in the House and Senate following the vote stressed that Governor Kasich had already expanded Medicaid, as his administration had already secured federal approval for the plan. Speaker Batchelder said the vote would merely ensure the solvency of the state’s Medicaid program.
Governor Kasich had previously included the measure to provide coverage for roughly 275,000 Ohioans in his budget proposal, but the language was removed during House budget deliberations. Further, the legislature included language in the budget to prohibit the governor from moving forward with expansion through his executive authority—language the governor ultimately vetoed.
Following the vote, five House Republicans along with two local Right to Life groups filed a legal challenge to the move. Representatives Ron Young (R-Leroy), Matt Lynch (R-Chagrin Falls), Andy Thompson (R-Marietta), Ron Maag (R-Lebanon), and John Becker (R-Union Township) argue that the governor does not have the authority to effectuate such a major policy change administratively.
A writ of mandamus is requested by the suit, ordering the Controlling Board to vacate the decision to appropriate funds to expand Medicaid spending.