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Ohio Medicaid, which costs about $31.6 billion in state and federal money over two years, consumes the biggest single share of the state budget. It covers 3 million Ohioans, including 715,000 who signed up through Medicaid expansion allowed through the Affordable Care Act.
Conservative lawmakers opposed to Obamacare inserted a provision in the budget bill that would require approval every six months for Medicaid expansion. Republicans called it “legislative guardrails.” Ohio would also seek federal approval for permission to impose work requirements for those enrolled in Medicaid expansion.
State Rep. Emilia Sykes, D-Akron, said Ohio shouldn’t punish people for being poor and kick them off Medicaid, especially as the state teeters on the verge of an economic recession. “I think that’s cruel and it’s short-sighted,” she said. Medicaid coverage allows workers to be healthy and able to work, she said.
Related: Medicaid coverage for 715k Ohioans hangs in the balance
The House budget relies on expanded gambling to bring in more revenue: a bigger portion of lottery sales would be earmarked for education to generate an additional $45 million over two years, the state would claim a larger share of video lottery terminal revenues to generate $18 million, adding video poker games at racinos would bring in $25 million and adding a new game — Lucky One — to the Ohio Lottery offerings would bring in $10 million.
The House version of the budget doesn’t fully address an anticipated $800 million fall off in state revenues. Smith and House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger, R-Clarksville, said the budget proposal is in balance, as required, based on existing revenue forecasts but it’ll be revised as new numbers come out. “This thing is going to flex again,” Rosenberger said.
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The vote fell largely along partisan lines. Four Democrats voted in favor of the bill while a dozen Republicans opposed it, including John Becker of Cincinnati, Keith Faber of Celina, Candice Keller of Middletown, Nino Vitale of Urbana and Paul Zeltwanger of Mason.