by German Lopez
Groups contest Gov. John Kasich’s decision to bypass legislature
The Ohio Supreme Court on Thursday expedited the 1851
Center for Constitutional Law’s challenge against the federally funded
Medicaid expansion, which Republican Gov. John Kasich pushed through the Controlling Board, a seven-member legislative panel, despite resistance from the Ohio legislature.
The case will decide whether Kasich was constitutionally
allowed to bypass the legislature to expand Medicaid eligibility to more
low-income Ohioans. The 1851 Center says the Controlling Board isn’t
allowed to go against the will of the legislature. The Kasich
administration argues the Controlling Board can unilaterally accept
With the case now expedited, both sides will submit their
arguments on the merits of the case to the state’s highest court by Dec.
Kasich tried for most of 2013 to get the expansion
approved by the Ohio House and Senate, but he couldn’t convince
Republican legislators, who control both chambers, to approve the plan.
But instead of accepting defeat, Kasich asked the
Controlling Board to take up federal funds for the expansion. The board
approved the funds on Oct. 21.
The legal complaint was filed on Oct. 22 on behalf of
Republican State Reps. Matt Lynch, Ron Young, Andy Thompson, Ron Maag,
John Becker and Ron Hood, Cleveland Right to Life and Right to Life of
Kasich, in a rare alliance with Democrats, says the
Medicaid expansion is necessary to insure more low-income Ohioans and
obtain federal Obamacare dollars that would go to other states if Ohio
declined the expansion.
But Republican legislators say they’re concerned about the
government’s involvement in the health care system and whether the
federal government can afford to pay for the Medicaid expansion.
Under Obamacare, states are asked to expand Medicaid
eligibility to reach anyone up to 138 percent of the federal poverty
level, or individuals with an annual income of $15,856.20 or less. If
states accept, the federal government will pay for the entire expansion
through fiscal year 2016 then gradually phase down its payments to 90
percent of the expansion. In comparison, the Kaiser Family Foundation found the federal government paid for nearly 64 percent of Ohio’s Medicaid program in fiscal year 2013.
The expansion would fill a so-called “coverage gap” under
Obamacare and Ohio law. Without it, parents with incomes between 90
percent and 100 percent of the federal poverty level and childless
adults with incomes below 100 percent of the federal poverty level won’t
qualify for either Obamacare’s tax credits or Medicaid.
The Health Policy Institute of Ohio (HPIO) previously found
the expansion would insure between 300,000 and 400,000 Ohioans through
fiscal year 2015. If the expansion is approved beyond that, HPIO says it
would generate $1.8 billion for Ohio and insure nearly half a million
Ohioans over the next decade.
If the Ohio Supreme Court upholds the Controlling Board’s
decision, the Medicaid expansion will go into effect in 2014 and cost
the federal government nearly $2.6 billion, according to the Ohio Department of Medicaid.
by German Lopez
Election Issue hits stands, ballot restrictions move forward, Cranley helped move jobs
CityBeat’s full Election Issue is in stands now. Check out our feature stories on three remarkable City Council challengers: Mike Moroski, Michelle Dillingham and Greg Landsman. Find the rest of our election coverage, along with our endorsements, here.
The Ohio legislature is working through a bill that would limit ballot access
for minor parties, which argue the petitioning and voting requirements
are meant to help Gov. John Kasich’s chances of re-election in 2014. The
Ohio House narrowly passed the bill
yesterday with looser restrictions than those set by the Ohio Senate
earlier in the month, but a legislative error in the House means neither
chamber will hammer out the final details until they reconvene next week.
Republicans say the bill is necessary to set some basic standards for
who can get on the ballot. Democrats have joined with minor parties in
calling the bill the “John Kasich Re-election Protection Act” because it
would supposedly protect Kasich from tea party and other third-party
challengers after his support for the federally funded Medicaid expansion turned members of his conservative base against him.
As an attorney and lobbyist at Keating, Muething & Klekamp (KMK), mayoral candidate John Cranley helped payroll company Paycor finalize plans to move its headquarters
— and 450 to 500 jobs with it — from Queensgate in Cincinnati to
Norwood, Ohio. Specifically, KMK and several of its employees, including
Cranley, helped Paycor and Norwood set up a tax credit deal to
incentivize the company’s relocation. The Cranley campaign says he was
just doing his job after Paycor went to KMK, not the other way around.
But supporters of Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls, Cranley’s opponent in the
mayoral race, say he shouldn’t be helping companies leave the city he
wants to lead. Paycor’s move in 2014 means the city will have to take
back some of the money it gave the company, through two tax deals that
Cranley approved while on City Council, to encourage it to stay in Cincinnati through 2015. Cranley received a $1,100 campaign contribution from Paycor CEO Bob Coughlin on Aug. 20.
Opinion:• “Which Came First, the Chicken or the Streetcar?”• “The Folly of Privatization.”
The Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport
(CVG) board travels widely and often dines at public expense, according
to an investigation from The Cincinnati Enquirer. Among other findings, The Enquirer
found the CVG board, which is considered a governmental agency, has a
much more lenient travel expense policy for itself than it does for
staff members, and it sometimes uses airport funds to pay for liquor. On
Twitter, Hamilton County Commissioner Greg Hartman called the findings outrageous and demanded resignations.
Northside property crime is on the rise,
and police and residents are taking notice. Business leaders in the
neighborhood are concerned the negative stigma surrounding the crime
will hurt their businesses.
With federal stimulus funding expiring in November, 1.8
million Ohioans will get less food assistance starting tomorrow. The
news comes after 18,000 in Hamilton County were hit by additional
restrictions this month, as CityBeat covered in further detail here.
Hamilton County commissioners yesterday agreed to pay $883,000 to cover legal fees
for Judge Tracie Hunter and her legal team. The Hamilton County Board
of Elections racked up the bill for the county by repeatedly appealing
Hunter’s demands that the board count more than one-third of previously
discarded provisional ballots, which were enough to turn the juvenile
court election in Hunter’s favor. Hunter’s opponent, John Williams,
later won a separate appointment and election to get on the juvenile
Metro, Cincinnati’s local bus service, announced it’s relaxing time limits on transfer tickets, which should make it easier to catch a bus without sprinting to the stop.
Cincinnati-based Fifth Third Bancorp laid off nearly 500 employees in the past six months, with some of the layoffs hitting Cincinnati. The bank blames the job cuts on slowdowns in the mortgage business.
A new study finds cheaters are more likely to strike in the afternoon.
Early voting is now underway. Find your voting location here.
Normal voting hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., although some days are
extended. If you don’t vote early, you can still vote on Election Day
(Nov. 5). Check out CityBeat’s coverage and endorsements for the 2013 election here.
Follow CityBeat on Twitter:• Main: @CityBeatCincy• News: @CityBeat_News• Music: @CityBeatMusic• German Lopez: @germanrlopez
Small political parties in Ohio say S.B. 193 will limit their influence over the 2014 governor’s race
0 Comments · Wednesday, October 30, 2013
S.B. 193 could make it too difficult for minor parties to get their candidates on the Ohio ballot.
0 Comments · Wednesday, September 25, 2013
In the middle of a state economy mired in
stagnant growth, Gov. John Kasich and his fellow Republicans are
attempting to weaken a key safety net that benefits more than 1.8
0 Comments · Wednesday, September 25, 2013
I have seen Boehner’s political rise —
from courtside seats in the early days — and I am amazed but not
surprised by it because it’s easy to be “impressive” and to be passed up
the ranks and into many branches of American politics; it’s a trait
politicians share with student/athletes in higher education.
Groups attempt to educate Ohio’s uninsured while the GOP tries to slow down Obamacare
4 Comments · Wednesday, September 18, 2013
As the Oct. 1 opening date approaches for
the Affordable Care Act’s (“Obamacare”) online marketplaces, outreach
campaigns are beginning to take root and aim at states with the largest
uninsured populations, including Ohio.
by German Lopez
Medical center blocked from helping uninsured navigate online marketplaces
Limitations imposed by Ohio lawmakers who
oppose the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) have forced Cincinnati
Children’s Hospital Medical Center to give up a $124,419 federal grant
that would have gone toward helping uninsured Ohioans navigate new online
marketplaces for health insurance.
Specifically, the state law, which Gov. John Kasich signed on April 30 and went into effect on July 30, excludes any
organization that receives payments from a health care payer, such as an
insurance company, from being designated as a “navigator.”
The designation is necessary for Cincinnati Children’s
Hospital to receive the federal grant, which is part of national
outreach efforts to enroll as many Americans, especially young adults,
into Obamacare’s online marketplaces when they open for enrollment on Oct. 1.
Without the designation, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital
was forced to give up the federal money, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital
spokesperson Terry Loftus told CityBeat.State legislators passed the restrictions to clarify regulations on navigators that avoid potential abuses and conflicts of interest.
But Obamacare’s supporters claim the state law is part of a
nationwide effort from state and federal Republicans to make Obamacare
more difficult to implement.
The federal government intends to sign up 7 million people
into Obamacare’s online marketplaces, but 2.7 million have to be young adults to keep costs low. Otherwise, older,
less healthy Americans will fill up the marketplaces, exhaust health
services and drive up costs.
Supporters of Obamacare acknowledge that signing up so
many young adults will be difficult, so they’ve taken to national and
state-by-state education campaigns that tell young adults about the
benefits and cost savings made available through the president’s
signature health care law. These campaigns are being headed by various
organizations that have been dubbed “navigators.”
But opponents, particularly Republicans, are preventing some of the efforts by investigating navigators and passing
legislation in state governments that limits what navigators can do and
who can be classified as a navigator.
Most recently, Republicans in the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee sent a letter to groups participating in the navigator program with a series of accusations and questions.
“This is a blatant and shameful attempt to intimidate
groups who will be working to inform Americans about their new health
insurance options and help them enroll in coverage, just like Medicare
counselors have been doing for years,” Erin Shields Britt, spokesperson
for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, told The Hill.
For the uninsured, not knowing about the online marketplaces could mean losing
out on opportunities to obtain health insurance at lower costs. Recent reports have found that Obamacare’s online
marketplaces and tax subsidies will lower costs for Ohioans in the
individual health care market.
An Aug. 29 study from the RAND Corporation,
a reputable think tank, found health care premiums will rise to an
average of $5,312 under Obamacare in 2016. Without the law, premiums
would reach an average of $3,973 that year. But when Obamacare’s tax
credits are plugged in, the average Ohioan will only pay a premium of
$3,131 — $842 less than he or she would pay without the law.
Avik Roy, a conservative health care economist and prominent critic of Obamacare, found even better results for Ohio. His model found premiums will drop by 30 percent in Ohio,
although they’ll rise by 24 percent on average for 13 states, including Ohio, and the District of Columbia as a whole.
Unlike RAND, Roy’s calculations don’t take subsidies into account, so
the final cost for the average Ohioan is likely much lower.The numbers only apply to Ohioans in the individual
health insurance market. Under Obamacare, individuals will be able to
enroll for health insurance through an online marketplace. The majority of Americans who get health insurance through their
employers or public programs fall under different rules and regulations.
It’s unclear how much Republican opposition will
ultimately play into the numbers. But for Cincinnati Children’s
Hospital, it means $124,419 less to help its neediest, less
by German Lopez
Posted In: News
, Health care
at 02:01 PM | Permalink
Ohio Poverty Law Center releases county-by-county breakdown
The Medicaid expansion could provide health insurance to
more than 42,000 people living in Hamilton County, according to a
county-by-county breakdown released on Aug. 28 by the Ohio Poverty Law Center (OPLC).
In Hamilton County, OPLC reports nearly 89,000 people are currently uninsured and roughly 155,000 use Medicaid.OPLC found Hamilton County also includes the two hospitals that spent the most on uncompensated care in Ohio last year: Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and University Hospital. Much of that cost is incurred when low-income patients use services and can’t afford to pay for them — an issue that would be in part resolved if the same patients could pay for care through Medicaid.
Under the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), states are
asked to expand Medicaid eligibility so the public health insurance
program covers anyone at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty
level, or an annual income of about $15,856 for a single-person
household. If states accept, the federal government will carry the
entire cost of the expansion for the first three years then phase down
its burden to indefinitely pay for 90 percent of the expansion’s cost. That’s much higher than the 73-percent share the federal government paid for Ohio’s Medicaid program in 2010.
Earlier this year, the Health Policy Institute of Ohio released an analysis
that found the Medicaid expansion would insure nearly half a million
Ohioans and save the state about $1.8 billion in the next decade.
Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, and Democratic legislators
support the Medicaid expansion, but Republican lawmakers, who control
the Ohio legislature, have so far resisted it.
Republican legislators say they’re concerned the U.S. government
won’t be able to afford its future Medicaid payments, even though the federal
government has done so since the program was first established in 1965. Many tea
party Republicans also oppose Medicaid and other public health programs
from a philosophical perspective that calls for smaller government.
Ohio Health Issues Poll results released in June found 63 percent of Ohioans support the Medicaid expansion, with a margin of error of 3.3 percent.
Legislative leaders have said they will vote on a Medicaid
overhaul bill and perhaps a separate bill including the Medicaid
expansion when they reconvene in October.
by German Lopez
Posted In: News
at 12:33 PM | Permalink
State senator gives proposal another shot in Ohio
State Sen. Tim Schaffer (R-Lancaster) is introducing
legislation Thursday that would attach mandatory drug testing to welfare
benefits, even though similar policies have proven to be costly with
little gain in other states.
“It is time that we recognize that many families are
trying to survive in drug-induced poverty, and we have an obligation to
make sure taxpayer money is not being used to support drug dealers,”
Schaffer told The Columbus Dispatch. “We can no longer turn a blind eye to this problem.”
Under the proposal, welfare recipients in three counties
would be required to take a drug test if they admit in a questionnaire
to using drugs in the past six months. Children, who make up a bulk of
welfare recipients, would be exempt. (In June, 24,443 adults and 105,822
children obtained welfare benefits in Ohio, according to data from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.)
The policy, which was originally touted as a way to reduce
welfare costs, has backfired in many states. That’s why the supporting
line is now about preventing dollars from going to drug dealers instead
of cost savings.
reports the latest problems in Utah: “Utah has spent more than $30,000
to screen welfare applicants for drug use since a new law went into
effect a year ago, but only 12 people have tested positive, state
When Ohio legislators in 2012 proposed a drug testing requirement for welfare benefits, CityBeat reported another failure in Florida originally covered by The Miami Herald:
In that state, the program had a net loss of $45,780 after it
reimbursed falsely accused welfare recipients for their drug tests. Only
108 people out of the 4,086 accused, or 2.9 percent, tested positive,
and most tested positive for marijuana.
Utah and Florida are among eight states
that have enacted drug testing requirements for welfare recipients since
2011, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
A court placed an injunction on the Florida program after
the American Civil Liberties Union sued on September 2011. That injunction
was upheld on Feb. 26 by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in
Atlanta, which concluded,
“The simple fact of seeking public assistance does not deprive a TANF
(welfare) applicant of the same constitutional protection from
unreasonable searches that all other citizens enjoy.”
Given that Schaffer’s bill would require drug testing only
after information is solicited through questionnaires, it’s unclear
whether legal challenges like the one in Florida would be successful in
0 Comments · Wednesday, August 28, 2013
State Sen. Bill Seitz says he’s working
on a bill that would cap how much utilities can spend on energy
efficiency programs and eliminate requirements for in-state wind and