COLUMBUS (WCMH/AP) — The future of Ohio’s Medicaid expansion is in limbo as lawmakers weigh a veto override and expansion supporters work to stop them.
Republican Gov. John Kasich vetoed a budget provision Friday that calls for freezing new expansion enrollment and preventing those who drop off the program from re-enrolling.
The Kasich administration estimated 500,000 low-income adults would lose coverage within the first 18 months of the freeze.
The Republican-led legislature supports reining in Medicaid spending as it threatens to consume Ohio’s budget.
House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger said the disagreement between republican lawmakers and the governor is a difference in opinion about what policy is best for Ohio.
“I think members have passion on either side and we’ve heard a lot from hospitals across the state – so it’s all going to come down to whether or not we have the members that want to do this,” Rosenberger said.
Tyler Wiseman of Waverly was one of hundreds of people who rallied at the Statehouse Wednesday to defend the expansion. Wiseman says he is a recovering drug addict and credits Medicaid expansion for giving him an opportunity get treatment. “I’ve been in treatment for about 60 days and my life has changed so much,” Wiseman said.
Protesters included health care professionals, community activists, faith leaders and consumer advocates.
Lisa Hamler-Fuggit, executive director of the Ohio Association of Fodbanks called the proposed Medicaid freeze “unconscionable” and “bad public policy for the State of Ohio.” “Governor Kasich has shown phenomenal leadership and we are asking the House and Senate to follow in his footsteps,” Hamler-Fuggit said. “Do not turn back. Do not close the door. Do not deny people access to healthcare.”
House Republicans were to meet Wednesday to determine if they have the votes to proceed. The House of Representatives has a session scheduled for 9am Thursday.