Today, the Republican-controlled Ohio House of Representatives overrode eleven items Governor John Kasich vetoed in the recently passed state budget, House Bill (HB) 49. Under the House’s overrides, Medicaid expansion will have to be reauthorized through the state Controlling Board and new taxes on working people could be put in place as a condition of healthcare coverage – if the Senate takes up the House overrides.
“While I am glad the House didn’t act on a straightforward Medicaid freeze today, House Republicans set up a potentially insidious, back door freeze by seeking new barriers to Medicaid healthcare coverage for working people,” said House Democratic Assistant Whip Emilia Sykes (D-Akron). “While Ohio’s economy is lagging behind the nation’s, now isn’t the time to play games with lifesaving healthcare for hundreds of thousands of working Ohioans who want to provide economic stability for their families. With these restrictions, we are just putting up more roadblocks on a path to the middle class for working people in our state.”
The House also tried to find a way to keep almost $200 million per-year in local funding for communities intact by instructing the Kasich Administration to seek a federal waiver from the Trump Administration for a revised tax on Medicaid managed care services. The federal government ruled Ohio’s Medicaid previous managed care organization sales tax unlawful in 2014, but Ohio Republicans failed to work on a permanent fix for the local funding shortfall during the budget process – even after six years of close to $2 billion in state budget cuts to local communities.
“After six years and almost two-billion dollars in Republican cuts to local communities, it’s our responsibility to take an all-of-the-above strategy to rebuild and restore our economic engines – our local communities,” said House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton). “While Ohio’s economy teeters on the verge of recession, we need to put our communities and local taxpayers in the best position possible to plan for their future and invest in job creation and community development.”
Republican lawmakers potentially added more restrictions to Medicaid healthcare services by housing authority for approval of optional services like dental, breast and cervical cancer screenings with the Republican-controlled legislature, a move the Kasich Administration contends is in violation of federal law.
House Republicans didn’t take the possibility of a Medicaid freeze off the table entirely, saying they will wait for Congress to act before making a final decision.
The House also overrode vetoes related to nursing home funding, Medicaid rates on neonatal and newborn care, and a provision that has prevented oil and gas exploration in state parks and nature reserves.
Here is what other House Democratic lawmakers are saying about the veto overrides:
“The provisions we considered today come from a Republican philosophy that punishes poor people for being poor,” said Rep. Dan Ramos (D-Lorain). “We should be working to ensure more people have access to quality healthcare, not the other way around. By making being healthy a luxury in this state, we are threatening to make matters even worse than they were before. Sick people in need do not have time to wait for legislative approval to get better. Rather than creating more problems, we should be focusing on solutions to make our state healthier, better educated and more safe.”
“Even though we did not take up the Medicaid expansion freeze explicitly, a back door freeze has been put in place through threats of increased fees and premiums,” said Rep. Catherine Ingram (D-Cincinnati). “Ohioans deserve better than this budget that the legislature continues to pick apart. We should not prioritize the wealthiest at the expense of the poor and working class.”
“When a family member is ill, the last thing they need is additional stress about healthcare costs,” said Rep. Tavia Galonski (D-Akron). “I am bewildered by the additional burdens placed on hard-working Ohioans in this state budget.”
“Medicaid expansion served an important role in establishing a lifeline of healthcare, particularly for young adults who are working, seeking work or recovering from conditions that prevent them from working,” said Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo). “Access to healthcare is not only a moral issue, but an economic imperative for our community. Toledo is internationally known for the products of its manufacturing labor, but this cannot be achieved without a healthy workforce. Many promises have been made by state and local leaders about healthcare, but the gap between those promises and access to quality healthcare will expand with the provisions we put in place today.”
“While we may be able to sigh a bit of relief as the freeze on Medicaid expansion was put on hold, the attack on working families and poor people in Ohio continues. Preventive healthcare should not be optional, based on the opinion of a select few in the legislature. The gap between the haves and have-nots is growing and Ohio's economy is lagging most of the nation. We need to focus our attention on improving our state's economy and the overall wellbeing of Ohioans.” –Rep. Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland)