From the Enquirer:
Kasich gets likely fourth ‘yes’ vote on Medicaid expansion
Gov. John Kasich appears to have gotten his fourth and deciding Medicaid expansion vote this morning, as Speaker Bill Batchelder, R-Medina, put a pro-expansion state representative on the seven-member board set to meet Monday afternoon.
Rep. Ross McGregor, R-Springfield, who says he is likely to vote in favor of the governor’s plan, will represent House Republicans as the board considers whether to accept federal money to expand Medicaid in Ohio under the Affordable Care Act.
Batchelder called McGregor Monday morning and asked him to serve as a substitute, replacing Rep. Cliff Rosenberger, R-Clarksville, who was expected to vote against Kasich’s request. McGregor plans to give Kasich a “yes” vote, likely giving the governor the four votes he needs to expand Medicaid.
“Barring any unknown information that would change my mind, I plan to remain consistent in my support of expanding Medicaid,” McGregor told The Enquirer Monday morning. “I have publicly stated that I’m in favor of expansion and obviously would have preferred to have done this legislatively, but I am certainly open to the Controlling Board route to kind of get the ball rolling.”
So Batchelder just gets to whimsically substitute Board members so he can subvert the crystal clear will of the Legislature and the people who voted them into office?
Someone remind me why we bother with elections.
Regardless of how one feels about the merits of what Kasich wants, this is completely outrageous and miles out of bounds.
UPDATE, 2:00 p.m.: I’ve saved the Enquirer’s updated story as of now here (it says it will be updated further, so that freezes it for discussion purposes; if necessary, scroll down to get to the story).
(Until now) Speaker Batchelder appeared to be in that (opposition) group, repeatedly saying Ohio needed to “reform” Medicaid, not “expand it.” Last week he and McClain joined 39 House Republicans, including all 11 state representatives from the Southwest Ohio delegation, in signing a protest saying Kasich’s Controlling Board move is illegal.
Yet on Monday, Batchelder replaced Rosenberger, a “no” vote, with McGregor, a “yes” vote. The speaker’s spokesman said he would release a statement later today explaining his decision to replace both of his caucus’ Controlling Board members.
“I’m a little taken aback by it,” said Rosenberger, saying the speaker originally asked him to miss the board meeting because he didn’t want the speaker’s race clouded by the Medicaid vote. “I had the same concerns as Representative Amstutz. If Representative Amstutz wouldn’t (miss the meeting), nor would I.”
Amstutz said he has no hard feelings against the speaker, who has the authority to replace Controlling Board members. But he’s disappointed that Kasich is putting Medicaid expansion before the Controlling Board, changing course after months of trying to get the full Legislature to vote on the issue.
UPDATE 2: Just received this Gongwer update from Tom Z –
Rep. Amstutz said he would like to see the Controlling Board hold-off its consideration on expansion until its Dec. 2 meeting in order to give the General Assembly enough time to fully vet the issue.
House GOP spokesman Mike Dittoe, however, confirmed Monday that both Rep. Amstutz and Rep. Cliff Rosenberger (R-Clarksville) would be replaced with Rep. Ross McGregor (R-Springfield) and Rep. Jeff McClain (R-Upper Sandusky).
Rep. McGregor is in support of the administration’s Medicaid expansion request, while Rep. McClain issued a statement asking for a postponement of the vote.
The Department of Medicaid is asking the seven-member panel to spend federal funds totaling $561.7 million in fiscal year 2014 and nearly $2 billion in FY 2015 to extend program eligibility, an estimated 275,000 Ohioans would come on to the entitlement program.
Tom Z’s reaction in the accompanying email:
“This bastardization of the political process by Governor Kasich, and his allies, has gone far enough and must be stopped. The botched attempt by House Speaker Batchelder to remove Representative Ron Amstutz this morning, has led Amstutz to call for a delay of the vote until the December 2nd meeting and we strongly support his reasonable request. Efforts to extort votes from Controlling Board members, swapping out members at the last minute and generally just attempting to rig the vote against the will of the citizens of Ohio, in cooperation with Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern, is an unconscionable political act by a desperate Governor who simply can not make a logical case for his destructive plan to Expand Medicaid.”
… “The governor is putting his own needs above the needs of his state party, his national party and the 66% of democrats, independents and republicans who overwhelmingly passed the Ohio Health Care Amendement in 2011.”
UPDATE 3: The 8:24 p.m. version of the Enquirer’s report gives Kasich a 5-2 “victory.”