Medicaid funding renewal and other policy issues face Ohio this year

The Cincinnati Enquirer has analyzed some of the major issues that are facing Governor Kasich and Ohio at the start of his second term. The first and perhaps largest issue is Ohio's Medicaid expansion, which Governor Kasich accomplished in his previous term without the support of the Ohio legislature by turning to the state's Controlling Board for permission to accept federal funds to expand the program. Medicaid is now also offered to adults without children in Ohio whose income places them at or below 138% of the federal poverty level.

The Enquirer reports that "more than 450,000 newly eligible Ohioans enrolled in Medicaid last year." The funding for the program runs out in June and lawmakers must agree to accept a new round of federal money, but Kasich may still lack the support for the program in a state legislature that is even more republican-dominated. If the legislature refuses to accept the funding, Kasich could again turn to the Controlling Board to prevent a situation where nearly half a million Ohioans would lose healthcare coverage.

WKSU News spoke with newly elected Ohio Speaker of the House Cliff Rosenberger regarding renewal of the funding. Rosenberger had been a member of the Controlling Board, but was replaced before the vote on the Medicaid expansion. He opposed the expansion at that time and reported to WKSU that he will continue to oppose it as Speaker.

Tax cuts are another significant issue the Kasich administration may pursue this year. Governor Kasich has faced opposition to plans to cut or eliminate the state's income tax and raise both the state sales and severance tax on gas and oil drilling. This could also include raising taxes on sales of cigarettes. If Kasich does not have support for raising the severance tax he may pose the issue to Ohio voters, according to the Enquirer.

The Enquirer reports on several additional issues that the administration will face in the coming year, including charter school reform, the algal bloom in Lake Erie and abortion. The Northeast Ohio Media Group also analyzed some of these issues at the beginning of January.