From The New York Times
As a Republican chairman of the House Budget Committee in the 1990s, John R.
Kasich wielded a ferocious budget ax. On Monday, as Ohio’s governor, Mr. Kasich
defied his party’s majorities in the state legislature to push through a
multibillion dollar expansion of Medicaid
The vote was an extraordinary — and possibly illegal, critics in Mr. Kasich’s
own party said — end run by the governor around the General Assembly. Mr.
Kasich, who initially declared himself an opponent of the Affordable Care Act
and who has declined to set up a state online health
marketplace, has argued all year that his sense of Christian
compassion, not to mention cool economic practicality, favored extending
Medicaid to poor adults and those with disabilities who do not currently
A budget sent to the governor by the General Assembly forbade Medicaid expansion
without lawmakers’ approval. Mr. Kasich vetoed that item. At least three bills
to expand Medicaid have failed.
Mr. Kasich, who has championed job creation as he
prepares for a re-election campaign next year in his swing state, has argued
that expanding Medicaid eligibility will be an economic booster shot, because
companies will be lured to Ohio by a healthier work force. Expansion is
supported by state hospitals, the County Commissioners Association of Ohio and
the Ohio Chamber of Commerce.
Under the Affordable Care Act, low-income workers are
to receive federal subsidies to buy insurance starting in 2014. But there is a
“coverage gap” for some who earn less than the poverty level but do not
currently qualify for Medicaid. The federal law allows states to expand Medicaid
eligibility to people with incomes of up to 138 percent of the federal poverty
level, about $15,860 for an individual. The 2012 Supreme Court decision that
upheld the law also allowed states to opt out of Medicaid expansion.
With Monday’s vote, Ohio became the 25th state plus
the District of Columbia to expand Medicaid, according to the Kaiser Family
Foundation. Nearly a dozen Republican governors have moved to do so, despite the
efforts of Congressional Republicans to “defund” the health care law.