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What was Ohio Governor John Kasich thinking...

by Lee Schalk / /

…when he announced yesterday that Ohio will expand Medicaid? As a result of the Supreme Court’s June 2012 Obamacare decision, states have the option to expand this failing, fraud-ridden program. Right now, it is imperative that conservative state leaders take a stand by saying “NO.” Frustratingly, Kasich is the most high-profile Republican governor to call for the program’s expansion. When you also consider his severance tax hike proposal, one starts to wonder if Kasich is still a dependable taxpayer ally.

Medicaid expansion, as I’ve recently discussed, poses immense risk to state and federal budgets. It’s a government program already on the brink of collapse with low reimbursement rates and payment delays, not to mention rampant fraud (improper payment rate in 2008 was 10.5 percent). Kasich has to know that by expanding Medicaid to an additional 365,000 Ohioans, these problems will only get worse.

At the state level, Ohio is already struggling to pay for Medicaid. While the federal government picks up the tab for the first three years and then promises to cover 90 percent of the expansion (though, I’d argue, don’t count on it – Obama has already proposed scaling back federal match rates starting in 2017), the Buckeye State will still be responsible for a whopping $1.2 billion from 2014-2022. Tax hikes anyone?

Kasich’s decision also impacts taxpayers nationwide. If all 50 states were wise enough to reject Medicaid expansion, the country would save an estimated $800 billion between now and 2022, but that would be entirely too fiscally responsible, so it probably won’t happen. Thanks to Governor Kasich’s wobbly-kneed approach to the health care law, federal spending will increase by an estimated $17.4 billion through 2022 to cover Ohio’s tab, according to the Heritage Foundation. If other governors fall in line behind Kasich, watch out.

In the past month, we’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly at the state level. With yesterday’s announcement, Governor Kasich has spurned the Ohio taxpayers that put him in office and disappointed many more across the country. Expanding Medicaid would make Ohio a co-owner of the government’s dramatic expansion into the health care system and demonstrate true fiscal irresponsibility.