By Jason Hart | Ohio Watchdog
Expanding Medicaid to working-age Ohioans with no kids and no disabilities was supposed to cost $2.56 billion in its first year and a half.
So much for that.
After just 18 months, Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s Obamacare expansion has cost federal taxpayers more than $4 billion.
Kasich underestimated the cost of the first 18 months of his Obamacare expansion by roughly $1.5 billion. Enrollment was almost 600,000 at the end of June, compared to Kasich’s projection of 366,000.
Ohio’s Obamacare expansion has cost far more than expected because enrollment and per-member costs have both rocketed past expectations.
Benefit costs have exceeded $325 million each of the past three months, and $300 million for seven months straight — setting a course for a total cost of $5 billion before the end of the year.
Obamacare provides 100 percent federal funding for Medicaid expansion through December 2016. States will have to pay five percent of the expansion’s benefit costs starting in 2017, and ten percent starting in 2020.
With the federal government $18 trillion in debt, Congress is likely to make changes to Obamacare expansion’s federal match rate, further increasing the burden on participating states.
FACT SHEET: Ohio Obamacare Expansion
Jonathan Ingram, research director at the free-market Foundation for Government Accountability, said Ohioans should be concerned about who will be “put on the chopping block” to pay for Kasich’s Obamacare expansion.
“In just a year and a half, Kasich has put more able-bodied adults on Medicaid welfare than his administration thought would ever enroll,” Ingram said.
He noted that in Kasich’s last two budgets, the governor “has proposed slashing funding to pediatric hospitals and kicking pregnant women off of the program.”
“At this point, one thing is clear: Ohio’s Medicaid expansion costs are rapidly spiraling out of control,” Ingram said.
“Instead of traveling the country lobbying other states to expand ObamaCare, maybe Gov. Kasich should stay in Ohio and figure out a way to roll back his disastrous Medicaid expansion, before it’s too late,” he concluded.
Kasich contends his Obamacare expansion is paid for with “Ohio money” and has been a rousing success. He has bashed the policy’s critics during unofficial presidential campaign trips to South Dakota, Montana, Georgia, North Carolina and elsewhere.
On Thursday when the Ohio Department of Medicaid released its June spending report, Kasich was in Tennessee telling Gov. Bill Haslam to keep up the fight for Obamacare expansion.
“Part of the problem is people develop an ideological opposition and then don’t want to be confused by the facts,” Kasich told Obamacare supporters at a campaign stop in Nashville.
Unlike Kasich, who expanded Medicaid unilaterally after Ohio lawmakers voted against it, Haslam — a fellow Republican — has been thwarted repeatedly by his state’s legislature.
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