Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Medicaid Expansion Backers Launch Drive for Potential Ballot Issue

Backers of an Ohio Medicaid expansion up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level have launched a petition drive that could put the issue before voters in 2014 if the Legislature does not act before then.

Jon Allison said Friday that supporters have launched an initiated statute effort to authorize Medicaid expansion in the state as allowed by the Affordable Care Act. He said the petition is being circulated, and added that a formal announcement on the effort would be made next week. He would not release any other details at present.

“The first priority remains to convince the Legislature to authorize expansion,” Allison said.

He has been working with the Alliance for Health Transformation, a coalition of individuals, community organizations, businesses, health care providers, and others pushing for an expansion. He said the group continues to focus on lobbying legislators for an expansion, but indicated a different apparatus may run a campaign should it go forward.

Under an initiated statute, backers would need to collect 115,574 valid signatures to put the issue before the General Assembly. If the Legislature did not act within four months, proponents would be able to collect another 115,574 signatures to put it on the ballot.

Gov. John Kasich included an expansion in his proposed budget, but Republican legislators delayed action to study the issue further. States have until Jan. 1 to pass an expansion or risk losing out on federal money to pay for the action.

House Speaker William Batchelder (R-Medina) said earlier this week that he didn’t expect the House to meet until October, but that the chamber continues to work on the issue. (See The Hannah Report, 8/27/13.)

On Friday, Kasich said he’s not inclined to push the Legislature too hard on an expansion.

“I’ve talked to the leaders. They told me that we need to go through this process. They know that I’m watching the process, and I have to tell you at the end of the day, there will be some need to have legislative consent. If I put them in a corner and I question their credibility, I don’t want to cut off my nose to spite my face and lose this thing. But have no doubt that I think it is critical we rehab people on drugs and help people who are mentally ill and get insurance for people who are the working poor,” he said.
Story originally published in The Hannah Report on August 30, 2013.  Copyright 2013 Hannah News Service, Inc.


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