Ohio House weighs overriding Medicaid veto

COLUMBUS — The Ohio House on Saturday was again weighing an override of Republican Gov. John Kasich’s veto protecting Medicaid expansion after scrapping the idea in July.

A memo circulating among House Republicans said GOP Speaker Cliff Rosenberger “would just like to see” where his caucus members stand now that efforts to repeal the federal health care law in Washington appear indefinitely stalled. The memo, obtained by The Associated Press, gave a reply deadline of 5 p.m. Sunday but added: “This does not mean the veto override will be on the floor this week.”

Kasich vetoed a budget provision June 30 that called for freezing new Medicaid expansion enrollment starting July 1, 2018, and preventing those who drop off the program from re-enrolling.

The 2016 presidential contender has been one of the most vocal champions nationally within his party of the expansion. He argues it should be viewed as distinct from the Affordable Care Act that made it possible, a law Republicans tried but failed to repeal and replace earlier this year.

In a dramatic faceoff with a same-party governor, Rosenberger’s chamber reconvened days after the veto appearing poised to call an override vote. But, while 11 other vetoes were overridden, the vote on expansion never came. Without House action, the Ohio Senate also could not act.

Rosenberger said at the time that his chamber had the 60 votes necessary to override the veto.

He said the vote didn’t go forward because Republicans wanted first to give more time to see how the national health care debate would play out.

House spokesman Brad Miller said Saturday that members have been inquiring about the status of an override vote since returning to the Statehouse from their summer break. He said a caucus meeting was held this week, but a vote isn’t imminent.

“I wouldn’t expect any kind of action on this right away, at least for the month of September,” he said.

More than 700,000 low-income adults are now covered under Ohio’s expansion, at a cost of almost $5 billion — most of which is picked up by the federal government. The Kasich administration has estimated that 500,000 Ohioans could lose coverage under a freeze within the first 18 months.

The memo lays out a strenuous case against expansion — including by reviving some arguments disputed during the original debate.

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