Ohio Republicans sue over Medicaid expansion

Six Republican members of the Ohio General Assembly sued to challenge Gov. John Kasich's expansion of Medicaid under healthcare reform, arguing it requires legislative approval, Reuters reports.

Kasich, a Republican, announced his support for the expansion in February, but the legislature never took up the measure, according to Reuters. As a result, Kasich sought approval for the expansion from a legislative panel independent from the General Assembly--the Ohio Controlling Board. That independent board, which consists of four Republicans, two Democrats and a chairman appointed by Kasich, voted 5-2 in favor of the expansion, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.

If Kasich's plan goes through, Ohio would be the 25th state to expand the program, and the eighth with a Republican governor. The legislators behind the lawsuit say the expansion must have full legislative approval.

"The Ohio Constitution forbids the delegation of such major policy making authority to a small administrative board of legislators and executive branch officials where those policy outcomes diverge from the expressed intent of the Ohio General Assembly," the complaint filed reads in part, according to Bloomberg.

The lawsuit is intended to preserve checks and balances in the Buckeye State, according to Maurice Thompson, the plaintiffs' lawyer and executive director of the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law. "Our lawsuit stands for the simple proposition that neither this governor nor any other is a king," Thompson said, according to Reuters.

Kasich announced his decision to seek approval from the Controlling Board earlier in October. Expansion of the program would add about 360,000 uninsured Ohioans to the rolls. Ohio is the most populous northern state that has not yet implemented the expansion. Prior to Kasich's decision, the Ohio Hospital Association called for a ballot initiative on the expansion, according to FierceHealthFinance.

To learn more:
- here's the Reuters article
- read the Bloomberg article