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Health and Medicine

High drama over Medicaid unfolds today in an obscure chamber of Ohio's Statehouse
Shot down by fellow Republicans in the Statehouse, Gov. Kasich turns to the Controlling Board, and a last-minute shakeup on the board may give him the votes he needs

Web Editor
M.L. Schultze
Gov. Kasich lobbied lawmakers for six months to expand Medicaid, then turned to the Controlling Board.
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Ohio is expected to become the 25th state today to expand Medicaid – setting in motion coverage for hundreds of thousands of working-poor people starting Jan. 1.

WKSU’s M.L. Schultze has this preview on a vote that has turned Ohio’s political attention to an obscure board that rarely draws a crowd of more than a few dozen people.

LISTEN: A preview of what's coming before the Controlling Board

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The state Controlling Board’s agenda is packed with more than 60 items. But it’s the one that falls near the middle that has been the subject of fierce lobbying pitting Gov. John Kasich against tea party Republicans.

Kasich is expected to become the eighth Republican governor to engineer the expansion. Most have gone through their Statehouses. But Kasich opted to go to the seven-member Controlling Board to accept some $2.5 billion in federal funding. That was after Ohio’s GOP-dominated Legislature stripped it out of his budget.  In a visit to Cleveland last week pushing the plan, Kasich said the expansion will help complete what began with his economic plan.

‘Our job is to repair this world. We started out repairing Ohio getting people to work. Because if they are not working, it hurts the family, it hurts the children. We know that bad things come from those that don’t have work. But as we do better on that front, it is important in my opinion that we reach the people who can be living in the shadows.”

The Controlling Board is made up of seven people : four  Republican lawmakers, two Democrats and Kasich’s budget analyst. Kasich has the votes of his analyst and likely both Democrats. The fourth vote is expected to come from Sen. Chris Widener, who is term limited.  The governor may even have a more comfortable margin than that;  the Cincinnati Enquirer is reporting that House Speaker Bill Batchelder will likely replace two other Republicans on the board who are both opponents – with one yes vote and one no.

If that happens, it will be over the strenuous objections of tea party Republicans and others who have been flooding Batchelder with calls, and are threatening to sue.


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