2014-2015 State Budget and Medicaid Expansion
House Votes on Amended Substitute State Budget Bill and Medicaid Expansion
Late on April 18, 2013, the Ohio House of Representatives amended, debated and voted on HB 59. During this process, the House approved an amendment that continues the conversation on Medicaid expansion with a vote of 97-0. We appreciate the unanimous, bipartisan support for this budget bill amendment that focuses on extending health care coverage and continued reform of Medicaid.
The amendment, offered by Representative Sears, is essentially a placeholder amendment that forces for the Senate to consider Medicaid expansion. Language of the amendment requires that legislation be introduced in the House of Representatives to reform Medicaid and Ohio's health care delivery system be introduced between September 15, 2013 and October 1, 2013. The amendment sets forth guidelines for what Medicaid reform legislation should include. You can find the amendment here.
Just yesterday we were facing a state budget bill with no provisions for extending health care coverage. Today the House of Representatives defined a pathway for further consideration of these vital policy matters. We made our case to the House and they listened. Now, we must make our case for extended coverage to the Senate.
We would not be at this point without your hard work and dedication to this issue - thank you. We must be steadfast and continue our advocacy efforts as the budget moves from the House to the Senate. We will continue to fight for Medicaid expansion!
House Substitute State Budget Bill and Medicaid Expansion
On Tuesday, April 9, 2013, the House Republicans introduced a substitute budget bill which made major changes to Governor Kasich's Executive Budget Proposal. The substitute bill slashed the proposed tax overhaul, eliminated the Medicaid expansion, and rewrote the school funding proposal. For more on the tax overhaul and education proposal, click here. Comparison documents of the House substitute budget bill versus the as introduced budget bill can be found here. Under the House's substitute budget bill, overall two year spending would drop from $63.3 billion to $61.4 billion. This reduction stems from the decision to forgo federal Medicaid expansion dollars.
The House rejected Governor Kasich's full Medicaid expansion which would have brought in $13 billion dollars in new federal money over the next seven years. When introducing the substitute budget bill, House Speaker Batchelder cited a "lack of clarity" on Medicaid issues in Washington as the reason. He also noted that his members had a difficulty supporting a program that is part of Obamacare, which many of them had campaigned against. In place of Medicaid expansion, the House restored provider cuts related to the expansion, coverage of optional services reduced in the original bill, and increases related funding for the Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections for medical services. They also created the Joint Legislative Committee on the Affordable Care Act to review or study any matter that it considers relevant to the operation and impact of the Affordable Care Act in Ohio. Finally, the House proposal provides an additional $30 million per year to counties for mental health services and $20 million per year for drug treatment. This new money is allocated to a new line item, 335507 Community Behavioral Health, and requires the Department to allocate these funds to the boards using the same methodology used to allocate other mental health and addiction services subsidies.
See Governor Kasich's statement on the House's budget proposal here.
Medicaid Expansion Is Best Deal for Behavioral Health
The MHAC and other behavioral health advocates will continue to fight for Medicaid expansion. We thank the House of Representatives for recognizing the need in mental health and addictions services by investing additional new dollars into the system, but we believe that Medicaid expansion is still the best deal for behavioral health. Medicaid expansion addresses health, wellness and recovery. For a list of reasons why we will remain committed to Medicaid expansion, please click here.
This is not a done deal and hope is not lost. The Administration and Medicaid expansion supporters continue to push forward as there is still hope for Medicaid expansion. We must remain steadfast in our message - Medicaid expansion is the best deal for Ohio.
Medicaid Expansion Rally Huge Success, Draws Thousands to Statehouse
An estimated 2,500 Ohioans gathered at the Ohio Statehouse on Thursday, April 11, 2013 in support of extending health care coverage to low-wage workers in Ohio. The People Not Politics! rally was a huge success despite the rainy weather. MHAC Member Senator Bob Spada served as the emcee of the rally. Watch Sen. Spada outline why Medicaid expansion is important and engage the crowd in the chant "Health Care Works" here. The rally brought together stakeholders from both sides of the aisle - Republicans and Democrats - in unity to support Medicaid expansion.
MHAC staff was very involved with the planning and organizing of this event. We also reached out to all of our members to invite them to the rally and provide them with bussing information from their communities if available. Before, during and after the event, Joan, Liz, Angie and Cindy provided support in various roles.
Many, many thanks to our members who participated in making this rally a huge success. Whether you attended the rally, invited others to participate, helped people to find rides to the event, etc., it was successful because of you.