COLUMBUS - Ohio Senate Republicans want to freeze enrollment in Medicaid expansion starting in July 2018 – essentially killing the expansion – citing uncertainty about the future of health care in Washington, D.C.
The proposal, which is set to be added to the state’s two-year budget Tuesday, would prevent new, lower-income Ohio adults from enrolling in Medicaid starting July 1, 2018. At that point, anyone who dropped off the rolls, such as because higher wages for a month, would not be able to re-enroll.
Until July 1, 2018, individuals could continue to enroll and re-enroll in the program as usual.
“This freeze will help us evaluate where the budget is a year from now and more importantly, perhaps, we’ll see what’s happening in Washington,” said Sen. Scott Oeslager, R-North Canton, who leads the Senate Finance Committee.
Freezing Medicaid enrollment would essentially kill it within a year for the childless adults covered by the expansion, experts say. Right now, people jump on and off the program when seasonal work appears or disappears.
Gov. John Kasich, a strong proponent of Medicaid expansion, could ax the freeze with a veto. And Ohio lawmakers could adjust or eliminate the freeze later based on decisions made by th
Some Republicans still want to kill Kasich's expansion of Medicaid to lower-income Ohioans. They don't want to vote for a state budget that continues the Obamacare program, which provides insurance for more than 700,000 Ohioans.
As a compromise, House Republicans proposed a plan that would have required the Medicaid director to get approval for Medicaid expansion money every six months. To get the money, the director would go before the Controlling Board, a panel of six lawmakers and a Kasich appointee – the same group Kasich leveraged in 2013 when his party would not move the Medicaid expansion portion of Obamacare through the Legislature.
But Senate Republicans eliminated that proposal Tuesday. They also eliminated the House's proposal for work requirements for those on Medicaid because of mental illness or addiction.
The debate over Medicaid in Ohio rages as Republicans in Congress craft an Obamacare replacement, largely in secret. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Terrace Park, has floated a seven-year phase-out of Medicaid expansion, starting in 2020, that would gradually reduce the federal money given to states.
Kasich might support a gradual phase-out of Medicaid, but he said House Republicans' plan fell "woefully short" of providing health care for Ohio's most vulnerable residents. Kasich recently joined three GOP governors and three Democratic governors in a letter opposing the proposed Obamacare replacement.
The Senate Republican's change is part of the state's two-year budget, which is expected to pass the Senate Wednesday. From there, House and Senate lawmakers will combine plans from each chamber. After that, Kasich can line-item veto items before signing the bill by June 30.