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Ohio leader notes concerns with expanding Medicaid

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 23, 2013 at 4:56 pm •  Published: January 23, 2013

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The leader of the Ohio House said Wednesday his fellow Republicans have concerns about the expense of expanding Medicaid, though he has yet to discuss with them whether the state should increase Medicaid coverage under the federal health care law.

Republican Gov. John Kasich is expected to decide soon whether Ohio should opt for the Medicaid expansion under the federal health care law known as the Affordable Care Act. The governor plans to make the decision known when he unveils his two-year state budget proposal on Feb. 4.

Should Kasich go for the expansion, the GOP-controlled Legislature would have to approve it.

House Speaker William Batchelder, a Medina Republican, acknowledged Wednesday that expanding Medicaid poses not just financial questions, but also philosophical ones for lawmakers who oppose the law and its mandate for almost everyone to obtain insurance.

"Obviously our caucus has concern about any expansion of that program simply because of the expenses," Batchelder told reporters. "It's just huge, and so we're going to have to spend time doing research and so forth."

Ohio had been among the 26 states that had challenged the federal law. And the state's voters overwhelming snubbed the overhaul's mandated coverage in a largely symbolic referendum in 2011.

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the heart of the law last year, but made the Medicaid expansion optional for states. The law expanded Medicaid to cover low-income people making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $15,400 a year for a single person.

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