The state Controlling Board approved a request from Republican Gov. John Kasich to accept $2.5 billion from the federal government to expand Medicaid and cover nearly 300,000 more low-income people through July 2015, reports the (Cleveland) Plain Dealer.
The decision is a victory for Kasich after months of battling with the conservative wing of the Ohio GOP, which opposed any growth in Medicaid.
In February, Kasich lobbied for the expansion as part of the state budget, but his fellow Republicans in the legislature removed that provision when they approved the spending plan this year.
The fight over Medicaid in Ohio has exposed deep divisions within the state GOP, with some conservative lawmakers threatening even before the board's vote to go to court if Kasich's request was approved, reports The Washington Post.
Kasich has pushed for the expansion on moral and economic grounds, arguing that the state should provide medical help for those who can’t afford it and maintaining that reducing the state’s uninsured population would translate into more jobs and a healthier workforce.
Figures show that 275,000 Ohioans will become eligible for Medicaid for the first time. The Kaiser Family Foundation had estimated that 330,000 people in Ohio would have fallen into a coverage gap without the expansion.
With Monday’s vote, Ohio became the 25th state, along with the District of Columbia, to expand Medicaid. Nearly a dozen Republican governors, all of whom oppose Obamacare, have moved to expand their Medicaid programs, The New York Times reports.
The seven-member Controlling Board includes the state budget director and six senior members of the legislature appointed by both parties
Immediately after the vote, the conservative Buckeye Institute announced it would sue over the decision.
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