October 25, 2013

Thanks, WSJ (‘Medicaid and the Apostle Kasich’; See Update)

Filed under: Health Care,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 12:10 pm

This dead-on editorial Tuesday saved me the trouble of composing something original (HT to an emailer; bolds are mine):

Medicaid and the Apostle Kasich
The Ohio Governor’s lawless, faith-based Obamacaid expansion.

Believe it or not, there are still a few disciples with faith in an ObamaCare higher power, and one of them happens to run Ohio. Governor John Kasich is so fervent a believer that he is even abusing his executive power to join the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion.

Not to be sacrilegious, but the Republican used to know better. Now Mr. Kasich seems to view signing up for this part of ObamaCare as an act of Christian charity and has literally all but claimed that God told him to do so.

The problem is that his evangelizing failed to convert the Ohio legislature, which is run by Republicans who understand the brutal budget and regulatory realities of participating in new Medicaid. So Mr. Kasich simply decided to cut out Ohio’s elected representatives and expand Medicaid by himself.

This week he appealed to an obscure seven-member state panel called the Controlling Board, which oversees certain state capital expenditures and can receive or make grants. Because the feds are paying for 100% of new enrollees for the next three years, Mr. Kasich asked the panel to approve $2.56 billion in federal funding, and then he’ll lift eligibility levels via executive fiat.

It’s a gambit worthy of President Obama, who also asserts unilateral powers to suspend laws that displease him and bypass Congress. The Controlling Board, which Mr. Kasich and his allies in the GOP leadership stacked with pro-expansion appointees, approved the request 5-2 on Monday.

Mr. Kasich’s action is all the more flagrant considering the state legislature did not merely refuse to appropriate or authorize spending the federal money. The GOP majority passed a budget with specific language prohibiting the Governor from expanding Medicaid without its consent. Mr. Kasich used a line-item veto to remove that provision, but he’s still violating the spirit of the law.

… Mr. Kasich may need to concern himself with other worldly authorities as he awaits final judgment. Thirty-nine House Republicans signed a formal protest and some of them are threatening to sue, and well they should. They argue that circumventing the legislature subverts the Ohio constitution’s separation of powers and exceeds the statutory legal authorities of the Controlling Board, which is supposed to “take no action which does not carry out the legislative intent of the General Assembly.”

Ohio is now the 25th state to buckle under pressure from Washington and the hospital lobby to join new Medicaid. His behavior doesn’t speak well for Mr. Kasich’s governing judgment as he prepares to run for a higher office in 2016.

In a sane world, governors can line item veto legislative language, but such a veto doesn’t throw clearly expressed legislative intent into the memory hole, as Team Kasich will certainly argue if the matter ever gets into a courtroom.

I am not exaggerating when I say that I have never felt more disappointed in or betrayed by a Republican Buckeye State governor’s actions — and yes, that includes Bob Taft.

_____________________________________

UPDATE:Totally unrelated” (actually totally relevant) —

Most of those (state Obamacare exchange) enrollments aren’t in private insurance, CBS’ Jan Crawford reports, but in Medicaid. The lack of sales in private insurance may mean a collapse of the entire reform program.

It looks like Kasich’s extra-constitutional gambit will simply hasten the Obamacare crack-up, thereby jeopardizing the alleged certainty of the federal Medicaid money promised. The federal government can build up debt for only so long before catastrophic results ensue. Kasich’s move brings that day closer.

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