Medicaid expansion out of budget

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio House will begin debate today on their version of Governor John Kasich’s budget, with majority Republican poised to make changes to some of its major provisions.

With Tea Party organizations threatening primary challenges to GOP lawmakers who vote for a proposed $13 billion Medicaid expansion because it is part of President Barack Obama’s health care reform law, representatives are expected to overhaul that part of the $63 million spending plan, as well Kasich’s proposed tax law update and new school-funding formula.

“Some things are not negotiable. We will neither forget nor forgive a single vote on this issue,” Ted Stevenot, president of the Clermont County Tea Party, wrote in an e-mail from the Ohio Liberty Coalition.

Stevenot also warned that the expansion would create a large voting bloc likely to cast ballots for Democratic candidates, making Ohio a “solidly ‘blue’” state.

The GOP leadership appeared to lack the votes necessary to pass the budget because of the plan to expand Medicaid to an additional 275,000 Ohioans because it is part of federal health-care reform, which Republicans are hoping to defund and repeal. If they succeeded, Ohio would be left holding the bag on the expansion, which is supposed to be covered 100 percent by federal funds through 2016 and 90 percent for another six years after that.

“It is my belief that passing Medicaid Expansion, or anything like it, will drive the entire grass roots movement out of our party and lead to a creation of a new third party” wrote Tom Zawistowski, a candidate for chairman of the state Republican Party.

The paring of the Madicaid expansion may be accompanied by a proposal to use $100 million for mental health and drug addiction services.

Changes may also be made to a proposed expansion of the sales tax to compensate for an income tax reduction and increases to the tax on oil and gas extraction.

Groups like Stevenot’s and the conservative PAC Ohio Rising say voters statewide voiced their opposition to the expansion when they approved the Healthcare Freedom Amendment in 2011, which would prohibit Ohio from mandating health care coverage.

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