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Government and Politics

Ohio House speaker worried about members' reactions to Medicaid issue
Batchelder still won’t say whether he will replace members of panel set to vote on Medicaid expansion

Jo Ingles
Ohio House Speaker Bill Batchelder
Courtesy of State of Ohio
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In The Region:

Ohio House Speaker Bill Batchelder isn’t saying whether he will replace a member of the controlling board in order to manipulate the vote on accepting federal money to expand Medicaid.

Gov. John Kasich is asking a budget panel known as the Controlling Board to allow the state to take in more than $2 billionover the next two years that would be used to expand Medicaid to 275,000 low-income Ohioans.

But Batchelder says he doesn’t like the idea of using the board in this way. He says he’s worried about the reaction of members of the House when the issue comes before the panel next week.

Hear Batchelder's concerns about members' reactions to Medicaid issue

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“Of course, I never become excited. But some others do so you want to be careful,” the Medina Republican said. “This is a very important issue to the people of the state of Ohio. That is to say the issue itself and the inter-branch relationship is very important to me.

"This governor has served in legislative bodies at both the state and federal level. He understands that and he and I can talk about those kinds of things. So my hope would be that everybody stays in their baskets and be very polite.”

Batchelder says he plans to talk with his two members on the Controlling Board and with Gov. Kasich during the next couple of days. The board has seven members in all: Two House Republicans and one Democrat; two Senate Republicans and one Democrat and Gov. Kasich's budget analyst. The leaders of both chambers -- Kasich and Senate President Keith Faber -- can replace their members on the board.

Batchelder is among about 40 members of the General Assembly who signed a protest letter that will be read into the official record.

While the letter carries no legal weight, it accuses Gov. Kasich of violating the Ohio Constitution by using the Controlling Board as a way to get around the will of the Ohio General Assembly.

Lawmakers in the House and Senate have not taken a vote on Medicaid expansion and they refused to include it as part of the new two-year state budget.

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