John Kasich took a political risk in expanding Medicaid the way he did, and it involved more than upsetting some in his party. The governor opened the way for his fellow Republicans in charge of the legislature to retaliate.
On Friday, they made a first move, a bill surfacing in the Ohio Senate that would limit the authority of the State Controlling Board, the panel the governor used to route additional federal Medicaid dollars into the state. Before lawmakers rush to passage, they would do well to recall the valuable role the board has played, allowing for flexibility and responsiveness. It has been a valuable tool for the Statehouse.
Limit its range too much, and lawmakers risk harming the state’s capacity to govern effectively. Even William Batchelder, the House speaker, noted that the governor did not overstep. State law gives the administration the authority to set Medicaid eligibility levels. That’s essentially what it did, the federal money then flowing.
Batchelder has taken many stands in the Medicaid debate, at times, conflicting. One position worth recalling as the discussion turns to the future of the Controlling Board involves the idea of legislative intent. The speaker recently said he believed a majority of his caucus supported the expansion. The House didn’t get a chance to vote. Yet if Batchelder is right, the Controlling Board reflected where lawmakers stood.