Ohio became the latest state to approve an Obamacare Medicaid expansion Monday night after Republican Gov. John Kasich pushed the proposal through a state Controlling Board.
Kasich swung the state Controlling Board’s vote Monday morning with unlikely help from Ohio Speaker of the House Bill Batchelder, who helped to secure a 5-2 vote in favor of the proposal Monday afternoon.
The Ohio legislature originally inserted a line into a budget bill prohibiting the expansion, but the governor vetoed the line and chose to ultimately bypass the legislature Monday with board approval instead.
Though Batchelder opposed the Medicaid expansion along with most Republicans in the legislature, he aided Kasich’s efforts by replacing two members of the Controlling Board just before the vote. Batchedler swung the vote by switching out two board members that were planning to vote against expansion. One of the new members supported expansion and one voted against it.
The speaker signed a letter just last week calling the attempt to bypass the legislature with the Controlling Board “illegal.”
Batchelder spokesman Mike Dittoe announced that though the speaker disapproves of the expansion, he was powerless to stop it. Batchelder “does not believe the Controlling Board should have this authority but, in the end, they do,” Dittoe said.
Conservative groups have already hit back against Kasich’s move and Batchelder’s involvement.
Tarren Bragdon of the Foundation for Government Accountability, which has been fighting against the Medicaid expansion nationwide, told The Daily Caller News Foundation that Kasich is “taking a page out of the Obama, Reid and Pelosi style of government.”
“The speaker and the governor are manipulating Ohio’s governmental process, just like they did in Washington,” Bragdon told TheDCNF. ”Seeing this about face by the governor and the speaker because they can’t face the allure of federal funds, and unfortunately its the taxpayers that are going to face the consequences.”
The president of the tea party group Ohio Citizens PAC. Tom Zawistowski, called the Controlling Board move a “bastardization of the political process” by a “desperate governor.”
Kasich has defended the expansion by saying he’s just “following Ronald Reagan’s lead,” but former Reagan administration official Ed Meese hit back, writing at National Review that Reagan would not approve of the blanket “one-size-fits-all policy.”
“This is really a debate about expanding Medicaid coverage for the first time ever to nonworking people who have no disabilities and no children,” Bragdon told TheDCNF.