Governor Kasich seeks alternative method to expand Medicaid
Following weeks of speculation, Governor John Kasich announced today that his administration has secured federal approval for a proposal to expand Medicaid coverage to adults earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) had originally expanded eligibility to include coverage for this population; however, a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court said that Congress could not coerce states into expanding Medicaid, leaving the decision up to individual states.
Governor Kasich had previously included the measure, which would provide coverage for roughly 275,000 Ohioans, in his budget proposal, but the language was removed during House budget deliberations. Legislators opposing the measure expressed distrust for the federal government, which will cover the full cost of expansion during the first three years and phase down to a 90 percent federal match thereafter.
Rather than continue to wait on action in the form of legislation, the Ohio Department of Medicaid will seek Controlling Board approval to increase appropriation authority by nearly $2.5 billion in federal funds through the end of state fiscal year 2015. The Controlling Board is a spending-control authority that must approve certain state expenditures and oversees other spending-related decisions. Membership is comprised of three legislators from each chamber—two Republicans and one Democrat—as well as the Controlling Board President, who is appointed by the governor. In order for the appropriation increase to receive approval, at least one Republican member must vote for the measure.
In announcing his decision, Governor Kasich cited prior reforms to the Medicaid program, integration of state-of-the-art IT systems and better coordinated care for Ohioans with multiple chronic conditions as reasons the system is well-suited to serve the expanding population. He said expanding coverage will help keep working Ohioans in jobs, put Ohio’s federal taxes to work and create a ladder up and out of public assistance for low-income residents. The request will be considered at the October 21, 2013 meeting.
Community projects to receive consideration for state funding
Governor Kasich recently announced his administration is gearing up for state capital bill deliberations early next year that will include consideration of local community projects for the first time since 2008. Unlike the biennial budget bill, capital appropriation bills typically address the brick and mortar needs of public entities. In announcing the process, he said the capital bill is expected to focus on the most pressing needs of state government, schools and higher education while placing an emphasis on the investment’s impact on jobs and economic growth.
Citing the state’s renewed economic well-being, Governor Kasich said critical community projects across the state will receive consideration for state dollars. In prior years, there has been approximately $100 million allocated for community projects. In the past, organizations such as museums, education facilities, entertainment venues, and historically significant sites, have benefitted from the community project portion of the capital bill.
Planners for the capital budget will also consider funding for local infrastructure projects administered by the Ohio Public Works Commission through bond-backed funding, as well as revolving loan funding for such projects.
Legislation considered this week
Political parties: Sponsored by Senator Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati), Senate Bill 193 would eliminate intermediate political parties and revise the processes for determining political party status and for establishing new political parties. The bill passed the Senate on October 8.
Tax credits: Sponsored by Senator Tim Schaffer (R-Lancaster), Senate Bill 203 would authorize an income tax credit for individuals that earn a nonprofit management degree. Additionally, it would allow a sales tax exemption for out-of-state nonprofit corporations that relocate jobs to Ohio. The bill was introduced on October 8.
Veteran concealed weapons: Sponsored by Representative Margaret Ann Ruhl (R-Mt. Vernon), House Bill 288 would eliminate the time limit within which retired and honorable discharged members of the Armed Forces of the United States are exempt from the requirement to complete firearms training as a prerequisite to obtaining a concealed handgun license. The bill was introduced on October 8.
Driver’s licenses: Sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Eric Kearney (D-Cincinnati), Senate Bill 204 proposes to allow for driver’s license renewal online every other renewal period, to exempt such renewals from the vision screening and photograph requirements. The bill was introduced on October 9.
Dental services: Sponsored by Representatives Bob Hackett (R-London) and Kirk Schuring (R-Canton), House Bill 159 would prohibit a health insurer from establishing a fee schedule for dental providers for services that are not covered by any contract or participating provider agreement between the health insurer and the dental provider. The bill is scheduled for a possible vote in the House Insurance Committee on October 15.
Medicaid revisions: Sponsored by Senator Dave Burke (R-Marysville), Senate Bill 206 would require implementation of certain Medicaid revisions, reform systems and program oversight.
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