GOP plan would put ‘guardrails’ on Medicaid funding

Gov. John Kasich expanded Medicaid eligibility in the state in 2014. CHRIS RUSSELL | THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

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Gov. John Kasich expanded Medicaid eligibility in the state in 2014. CHRIS RUSSELL | THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

Ohio House plan says funding would need Controlling Board OK every six months.

Republicans in the Ohio House are taking steps this week to install tighter financial oversight over expanded Medicaid, which is an element of Obamacare that serves 715,000 low-income Ohioans.

An amendment to the House budget bill would put “legislative guardrails” on the program and require funding approval every six months from the Controlling Board. “The money will be drawn down as we go,” said House Finance Committee Chairman Ryan Smith, R-Bidwell.

Medicaid is a state and federally funded health care program for disabled and low-income Americans. In Ohio, it costs $28 billion and covers more than 3 million people. Under the Affordable Care Act, it was expanded to cover more low-income people, with the feds picking up 95 percent of the tab.

Related: Medicaid coverage for 715k hangs in the balance as debate rages

The Medicaid provisions were among six pages of changes introduced in a single omnibus amendment rolled out Monday afternoon. The House is scheduled to vote on the 4,500-page spending bill on Tuesday. The bill details how the state will spend more than $133 billion over two years in state and federal money. But it’s not all about dollars and cents — the bill is loaded with policy changes dealing with topics such as prison farmland sales, opiate addiction, gambling and lottery games, and more.

Related: Ohio House wants more money for opiate fight, ditches Kasich tax plan

Among the changes are the following:

  • Letting notaries set their own fees;
  • Extending the appointment of the state inspector general to January 2021;
  • Adding $100 million in funding for nursing homes over the two-year budget;
  • Allowing Ohio State University to enter a utility agreement for its energy systems on main campus; Related: Ohio State ready to sign $1-billion energy deal
  • Requiring the state prison system to competitive bidding when selling land;
  • Authorizing Warren County to earmark a 1-percent lodging tax for construction and maintenance of a new sports complex;
  • Striking the requirement that the Clark County Municipal Court clerk post be eliminated;
  • Cutting $1 million from Ohio Association of Second Harvest Food Banks;
  • Allowing the University of Akron to sell off a dorm; and
  • Requiring consulting services be subject to competitive bidding and Controlling Board approval.

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