Ohio's Medicaid expansion must be protected
Posted June 30, 2017 in Press Releases
Policy Matters weighs in on state budget sent to Governor Kasich
The budget bill the General Assembly sent to the Governor would reduce health care coverage with harsh new restrictions on Medicaid expansion eligibility and a freeze in enrollment. Policy Matters Ohio has asked the Governor to veto these measures.
The legislature failed to raise enough revenues for needed services, yet enacted new tax breaks as state revenues fell. To make ends meet they cut programs and raided local government resources, taking Local Government Funds from cities on the front line of the drug epidemic to pay for state mental health and addiction services. The budget does not keep pace with inflation: school budgets are funded at less than the rate of inflation, and many districts see cuts. Funding for public colleges is completely flat, and the state’s only need-based grant for low-income students is barely increased.
Bright spots: the General Assembly’s budget finds a way to fix another big cut to local governments. As the state moved the tax on Medicaid managed care services from the base of the sales tax to the insurance tax, counties and transit agencies with a piggybacked sales tax lost $207 million in annual revenues (starting in 2019). The General Assembly budget bill directs the state to seek federal permission to fully restore the local share through 2024. We are grateful for the leadership of Representatives Bill Seitz, Ryan Smith and John Edwards and Senator Matt Dolan on this issue.
The budget also adopts a Policy Matters Ohio proposal to expand education and training services for Ohioans who need food assistance. The proposal was outlined in our SNAP to Skills report. Washington state, which is the national model, uses this funding to provide education and supportive services to more than 28,000 people annually. Ohio now has the potential to do the same.
Policy Matters Ohio has asked the Governor to veto the worst of the cuts to health care coverage. At the same time, we encourage him not to veto the restoration of funding to counties and public transit.