Medicaid Expansion Proponents Follow Through on Threat to Begin Ballot Issue Effort

Last month, in our members-only publication Legislative Update, I wrote about how, over the summer, lawmakers were still grappling with the difficult and complex issue of whether or not to expand Medicaid. And I noted that, should the legislature not expand Medicaid, some of the groups pushing for expansion were considering a ballot initiative that could ultimately let voters decide the issue.

Well, they pulled the trigger on that effort on September 4. A group calledHealthy Ohioans Work filed the necessary paperwork with the Ohio Attorney General’s office indicating their intent to pursue enactment of the “Access to Healthcare Act” via initiated statute. Initiated statute is the process in Ohio that citizens can use to add a law to the Ohio Revised Code.
On Friday, the Attorney General certified the summary of their proposed law. Now, the group is allowed to begin gathering the roughly 115,000 signatures of registered voters needed in order to present the Medicaid expansion law to the General Assembly in January 2014. If successful, the legislature would have four months to act on the proposal. If it does not, the proponents could then seek to let Ohioans vote on the matter in November 2014.
While the Ohio Chamber remains strongly opposed to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), we think expanding Medicaid makes sense for employers. However, the Ohio Chamber is not part of the Healthy Ohioans Work effort to pursue Medicaid expansion via a ballot issue.

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