Ohio hospitals want to put Medicaid expansion on ballot

Weary of delays in getting a Medicaid expansion bill to vote in the Legislature, the Ohio Hospital Association (OHA) is moving to place the question on a statewide ballot initiative in 2014, WOSU reported.

The OHA is working with the Ohio Alliance for Health Transformation to gather the first round of voter signatures--1,000 in total--to seek approval from the state attorney general's office to move the initiative process forward.

"Ohio hospitals support a legislative resolution to this opportunity and by taking these steps with filing the appropriate paper work we want to ensure options remain on the table as this moves forward," John Palmer, OHA spokesman, told WOSU.

If the attorney general signs off on the initiative, the state Legislature would have four months to vote on the question. If it does not, OHA would have to gather several hundred thousand additional signatures to place it on the November 2014 ballot.

Ohio lawmakers have yet to vote on expanding Medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act since Republican Gov. John Kasich voiced his support for doing so last February, the Columbus Dispatch reported, and there is no specific time set for taking a vote. About 275,000 Ohioans would receive coverage if Medicaid is expanded, providing some financial cushion for hospitals that treat large numbers of uninsured patients.

Michigan lawmakers recently expanded Medicaid, which appears to have ratcheted up the pressure for Ohio to do the same. Neighboring Kentucky moved forward with an expansion of its own months ago, even though its populace tends to be more politically conservative than Ohio's. The Bluegrass State has the nation's highest rates of smoking, cancer deaths and preventable hospitalizations, and its leadership has embraced the Affordable Care Act as a way to improve those metrices, Politico reported.

To learn more:
- read the WOSU article
- check out the Columbus Dispatch article
- here's the Politico article