COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio Gov. John Kasich vetoed legislation Friday which would have frozen new Medicaid enrollments in The Buckeye State.
The move comes in defiance of his own party on both the state and national level. Medicaid currently provides health insurance to 700,000 low-income Ohioans.
“I understand the fiscal concerns that we have, but we’ve been able to manage it,” Kasich said. “I wouldn’t do anything that’s going to put the state in a position of where we couldn’t have fiscal stability.”
Conservatives had called on the outspoken Kasich to set a national example by leaving in place state budget provisions calling for freezing new expansion enrollment starting July 1, 2018, and preventing those who drop off from re-enrolling. Exemptions were written into the bill for those undergoing mental health or drug addiction treatment, but the administration said they had no legal force.
Kasich said he believes the state and nation “can deal with the fact that people have needs and at the same time we can be fiscally responsible.” He noted the expansion has yielded Ohio nearly $300 million for opiate addiction, double what the Legislature had allotted in the budget.
The Republican-led Legislature already has scheduled sessions Thursday where they’ll attempt an override vote. Ohio’s Republican legislators face potential pushback from their constituents in the politically divided battleground state for not acting to curb government health care spending.
The Kasich administration has estimated that 500,000 Ohioans could lose coverage under a freeze within the first 18 months.