Saturday, May 25, 2013

Expanding Inefficient Federal Programs Not in Ohio’s Best Interest

Guest Column from State Representative Jim Buchy

When I first was elected to the Ohio House in 1983, the Medicaid budget in the state was $3 billion. Since that time it has grown faster than the rate of inflation and is now $26 billion. Medicaid gets more than primary and secondary education and takes up nearly 40 percent of the state’s operating budget.

Recently, there was discussion about expanding Medicaid to cover a larger population and that was a bold proposal. It is important as legislators and for our fellow Ohioans to do what we can to help people who are in need. Our ultimate goal is to help them reach the point where they no longer need public assistance.

Obamacare is not the answer, and it seems every week we learn of more problems presented by the law. A recent study released by the Society of Actuaries revealed that some Ohioans may see their healthcare premium costs jump by more than 80 percent by 2017 because of Obamacare.

With so much uncertainty about the law, the House determined that accepting money from Washington to grow an inefficient program and further extend the reach of the federal government into the states was not the right action to take. Should the Obama administration fail to uphold its end of the bargain, which is a real possibility considering the irresponsible spending taking place in Washington, it would place serious strain on future state budgets.

Therefore, after nearly 70 hours of debate and testimony on the budget, Medicaid expansion was stripped from the bill. Shortly after the bill passed out of the House, the Senate announced that it also will not include expansion in its budget proposal.

The budget does require that legislation be introduced this year that will be focused on reducing the number of Ohioans dependent on Medicaid, seek ways to lower the net state and federal costs for the program, and promote workforce readiness and educational services. In west central Ohio, we call these types of changes reform. Working to get people the help they need to get off government assistance was an issue to large to be fully scrutinized in the budget.

I opposed Obamacare from the very beginning. It is critical that we make smart decisions regarding healthcare policy. Allowing a huge program that has doubled in cost just during the past decade to get even bigger is not a smart, or responsible, way of addressing healthcare in the state of Ohio.

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