By Jason Hart | Ohio Watchdog
Gov. John Kasich’s Obamacare expansion has put 450,941 Ohioans on Medicaid, outpacing his administration’s projections by 24 percent.
Instead of tempering leftist support for the expansion, budget-busting enrollment is portrayed as good news for Ohio; Obamacare sticks federal taxpayers with 100 percent of Medicaid expansion benefit costs through 2016.
In a Cleveland.com news story last month, Northeast Ohio Media Group reporter Robert Higgs asserted higher-than-expected enrollment “provides a fiscal argument for Gov. John Kasich as he lobbies the General Assembly to continue expanded Medicaid when he presents his budget proposals early next year.”
“I hope that common sense will prevail and that we won’t mess with what we see as working well,” Cathy Levine of the Universal Health Care Action Network told Higgs for a story published at Cleveland.com the following week.
When not promoting a federal Balanced Budget Amendment, Kasich has pressed the Ohio General Assembly to spend more federal dollars on his Obamacare expansion. A $2.5 billion appropriation Kasich rammed through the Ohio Controlling Board in 2013 expires June 30, assuming the money lasts until then.
Kasich — who expanded Medicaid over the General Assembly’s express disapproval — told attendees at a Dec. 4 infant mortality summit to march in favor of more Obamacare expansion spending, but critics are encouraging legislative opponents to stand their ground.
“Kasich is threatening to organize protests to ensure the state continues to expand ObamaCare,” Tarren Bragdon, CEO of the free market Foundation for Government Accountability, said in an email to Ohio Watchdog. “He’s clearly indicated his commitment to protecting the left’s welfare mentality more than the truly needy in Ohio.”
“Rather than succumb to Kasich’s fear tactics, this is the time for legislators to stand strong for Ohio, its patients and its taxpayers,” Bragdon continued.
The Ohio Department of Medicaid’s November caseload report showed Obamacare expansion enrollment 88,468 greater than the 362,473 budgeted. Consistent with every caseload report this year, enrollment was greater in November than in any previous month, even after adjusting for retroactive eligibility.
“Ohio’s ObamaCare expansion is following a predictable pattern. More able-bodied adults are signing up than the state ever expected and costs are soaring out of control,” FGA research director Jonathan Ingram explained in an email. “What happens when the state’s share of those costs comes due in just a few short years?”
“Gov. Kasich is already prioritizing this new class of able-bodied adults over the truly needy,” Ingram added. “He’s already pushed tens of thousands of children and adults with developmental disabilities on Medicaid waiting lists to the back of the line to make room for his ObamaCare expansion. He’s already targeted pediatric hospitals for funding cuts. When the ObamaCare bill comes due, who else will he put on the chopping block?”
“It’s time for the legislature to put a stop to Gov. Kasich’s unilateral, immoral ObamaCare expansion. They need to start crafting a Medicaid expansion exit strategy, before Kasich turns the safety net into a tightrope.”
ODM’s latest release listed October enrollment 23 percent higher than projected, September enrollment 20 percent higher than projected, August enrollment 16 percent higher than projected and July enrollment 11 percent higher than projected.
Obamacare expansion enrollment in October, initially reported as 430,942, was revised to 444,520 in the latest caseload report. September enrollment was first reported as 401,307, increased to 421,438 last month and increased again to 429,638 in the new ODM report.
Enrollment figures reported for January, February, March, April, May, June, July and August were also revised upward from the previous monthly ODM report. At 366,483, the latest June Obamacare expansion enrollment figure exceeded the 366,000 ODM projected for next July.
A recent Health Policy Institute of Ohio brief compared Medicaid expansion enrollment to projections HPIO published in January 2013 from The Ohio State University and The Urban Institute. June enrollment reported last week by ODM was more than double the 153,959 projected by Urban Institute and 41 percent greater than the 260,360 projected by Ohio State.
Ohio’s legacy press hailed HPIO’s January 2013 study, which emphasized the short-term benefits of new federal spending, as proof the Obamacare expansion was good policy. Ohio State analysts now estimate 593,361 Ohioans will be enrolled in Medicaid under Obamacare next June, 664,565 will be enrolled in June 2016 and 703,667 will be enrolled in June 2017.
On Nov. 20, the state Joint Medicaid Oversight Committee released a fiscal year 2016 projection of $557 per member per month in benefit costs for Obamacare expansion recipients. Using new enrollment projections from Ohio State, this would translate to a $370 million monthly burden on taxpayers by mid-2016.
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