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Ohio House Republicans Prepared to Sue Kasich to Stop Medicaid-Expansion Power Grab

The Dispatch reported last week:

House Republicans are preparing to potentially sue GOP Gov. John Kasich over taking Medicaid expansion to the state Controlling Board, and they would base their lawsuit on the arguments laid out in a formal protest they filed yesterday. Thirty-nine GOP representatives signed a letter in protest of Kasich’s plan to ask the seven-member legislative-spending oversight panel on Monday to approve $2.56 billion in federal money over two years to cover about 275,000 more poor Ohioans under Medicaid. They said Kasich’s maneuver will circumvent the “clear intent of the General Assembly,” a violation of Ohio law.

Kasich has been obsessive in his desire to use Obamacare funds to expand Medicaid in the state, bringing cheers from the left and infuriating conservatives. The Ohio governor has repeatedly used God as his wingman in his quest to shove the program through the legislature — unsuccessfully. Kasich has (for now) become the darling of the left for his single-minded determination to expand the welfare rolls in Ohio. Many are speculating that Kasich is positioning himself for a presidential run that will focus on independent voters. Others think his shift to the left will appeal to moderates in his re-election bid. Still others say Kasich really believes that God has put him in the position to use the power of the state government to help the poor. It may be all of the above.

“You don’t have to say any more prayers about that. We are going to expand,” Kasich told Medicaid-expansion advocates Friday.

Why is it some people don’t get it?... It’s probably because they don’t understand the problem. ... Can you imagine being in a position where you have no health insurance?

With this recent move Kasich has upped the ante, creating a constitutional crisis over the separation of powers. Kasich had originally included the Medicaid expansion in his state budget. The legislature stripped it out and then added language prohibiting the state from expanding Medicaid in the final budget sent to the governor. But Kasich struck that language from the budget with his line-item veto. Remaining in the budget after all the changes is a section authorizing the state Medicaid director to do the expansion. Republican legislators maintain that Kasich must receive the final legislative financial support to fund expansion, but Kasich has asked the seven-member Controlling Board, which usually does little more than transfer funds between accounts, to authorize accepting the federal funds to expand the program — though there are no guarantees that the federal government would continue to fund the program in future years, which means the burden of funding the program could suddenly shift to the state in the years to come.

The seven-member Controlling Board is made up of Democrats and Republicans appointed by House and Senate leadership as well as a Kasich appointee. The two Democrats and the Kasich appointee are thought to be a lock for Kasich, and Rep. Chris Widener is widely thought to be the Republican “yes” vote Kasich needs for a majority.