Issues > Ohio Legislature: Health Care for Women and Families

Heartbeat bill: Take 3

Heartbeat bill:  Take 3
By: Catherine Candisky |The Columbus Dispatch | February 17, 2015 

With 50 co-sponsors, a renewed legislative effort to pass the so-called heartbeat bill should be a slam dunk in the 99-member Ohio House.

Also boosting its chances, House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger is among those co-sponsoring House Bill 69 to outlaw abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, generally around five or six weeks into pregnancy.

Speakers generally do not co-sponsor legislation.

Whether the bill would clear the Senate and get Gov. John Kasich’s signature is less certain. Both share the concerns of Ohio Right to Life and other abortion opponents who say such a ban would be found unconstitutional by the courts and jeopardize other laws restricting abortion. Similar laws in other states have been overturned by the courts.

Supporters say they welcome a legal challenge, hoping it could lead the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision giving women the right to an abortion before a fetus is viable or able to survive outside the womb, generally about 24 weeks.

Abortion-rights supporters say House Bill 69 would ban abortions at a point when many women don’t yet realize they are pregnant.

“Politicians do not know or understand a woman’s specific situation. They shouldn’t be allowed to make personal decisions on her behalf. Women, their families and physicians should be trusted and respected to make the health care decision that is best for their family,” said Stephanie Kight, president and chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio.

“H.B. 69 is bad law and bad medicine, and is unconstitutional and unnecessary. We need our legislators to work toward expanding access to health care instead of restricting it.”

The House has twice voted on similar bills. One was defeated in December, falling short by three votes. An earlier version passed, but died in the Senate.

Additional articles:

Ohio Supreme Court upholds Medicaid Expansion - only through fiscal year ending June 2015

(Photo left - Ohio Supreme Court, Columbus) 


Ohio Supreme Court upholds Ohio Controlling Board Medicaid expansion  
By  Catherine Candisky | The Columbus Dispatch 

12.20.13 - The Ohio Supreme Court upheld Gov. John Kasich’s expansion of Medicaid coverage to an estimated 275,000 poor, uninsured Ohioans today.

In a 4-3 ruling, the court found that the state Controlling Board, a bipartisan legislative panel that oversees government spending, acted within state law when it accepted federal aid to fund the expansion.

“The (groups challenging the expansion) fail in their quest because they have not adequately shown that the Controlling Board had a clear legal duty to follow the directives of the legislature when those directives are not expressed in the final, enrolled bill,” Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor wrote in a 15-page decision

The three dissenting justices – Justices Terrence O’Donnell, Sharon Kennedy and Judy French – said they would have dismissed the case without issuing a ruling on its merits.

“The role of the judiciary is to decide legal questions,” O’Donnell wrote. “This case, however, involves a political question concerning whether a legislative agency acted contrary to the policy goals of the General Assembly.”

Two anti-abortion groups and six Republican lawmakers filed suit last month to block expansion after the Controlling Board – a panel of six lawmakers and one appointee of the governor – voted 5-2 to approve the expenditure of $2.56 billion in federal aid. The spending authority was sought by the Kasich administration to use funds available through the Affordable Care Act to states agreeing to expand Medicaid eligibility.

Conservative legislators and abortion foes argued Ohio would face “dire budgetary consequences” and that the Controlling Board improperly overrode the GOP-led General Assembly, which had rejected Kasich’s proposal to extend coverage to those earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level – just under $16,000 a year for an individual.

State attorneys claimed that the Controlling Board and state Medicaid Director John McCarthy, a Kasich-appointee who submitted the spending request, both acted within their authority. The lawsuit, attorneys stressed, challenged the decision to accept the federal funds and not the decision to expand Medicaid.

O’Connor noted that Kasich vetoed a provision in the budget that would have blocked the expansion, and the legislature did not attempt to override that veto. Blocking the administration’s action through the Controlling Board would amount to a back-door veto override.

“The General Assembly would have the power to command the Controlling Board, in all cases, to disregard the governor’s veto in the implementation of appropriations,” she wrote. “This interpretation is clearly contrary to the ‘checks and balances’ that are critical to our constitutional democracy.”

The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) will cover 100 percent of expansion costs for three years beginning Jan. 1 and 90 percent or more after that, bringing an estimated $13 billion in federal money to Ohio during the next seven years. Opponents, however, say the federal government doesn’t have the money and could stick states with the bill. 

The state Medicaid program currently covers nearly 2.4 million poor Ohioans, mostly children, parents and the disabled. The 275,000 gaining eligibility beginning Jan. 1 are primarily adults under age 64 without dependent children.


Ohio Medicaid Expansion Plan Challenged in Lawsuit
By Andrew Harris | Bloomberg

10.23.13 - Ohio Governor John Kasich's plan to expand Medicaid under President Barack Obama's health-care overhaul, approved two days ago by a state legislative panel, was challenged in a lawsuit brought by a group of Ohio lawmakers.

Six Republican state representatives, joined by anti-abortion organizations based in Cleveland and Cincinnati, filed the complaint challenging the panel’s action yesterday at the state’s Supreme Court in Columbus.

The plaintiffs asked Ohio’s top court to void the Ohio Controlling Board action, arguing it exceeds that body’s lawful authority. Kasich, a first-term Republican, sought approval from the board after he was unable to persuade his party members who control the state legislature to agree to the plan.

Read entire article here.

The case is State, ex rel. Cleveland Right to Life Inc. v. State of Ohio Controlling Board, 13-1668, Ohio Supreme Court (Columbus); view entire suit here.


Controlling Board gives ok to use of federal money to pay for Medicaid expansion in Ohio
By Robert Higgs, Northeast Ohio Media Group

10.22.13 - COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The state Controlling Board on Monday approved a spending request from Gov. John Kasich’s administration that clears the way for the state to expand Medicaid to cover Ohio’s working poor.

By a vote of 5-2, the board gave approval for the Department of Medicaid to tap into $2.5 billion the federal government has authorized for Ohio to cover the costs of expanding the Medicaid program for this fiscal year and next.

But the governor’s fellow Republicans in the Legislature steadfastly refused to grant the expansion. Some have cited opposition to such a major expansion of a public support program. Others have cited concern about size of the national debt. General opposition to health care reform, commonly called Obamacare, also is a reason.

Ohio law requires that before money can be spent, it must be formally be appropriated. Typically that is done through a vote of the General Assembly. But the Controlling Board also has the authority to adjust appropriations as needed. In this case, it would involve authority to spend the newly received federal revenues.

Read entire article here.


Kasich Administration will seek state Controlling Board's
ok to use Federal funding to expand Medicaid in Ohio
Robert Higgs | Northeast Ohio Media Group

10.11.13 - COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Kasich administration will ask the controlling board at its next meeting for authority to spend about $2.5 billion in federal aid over the next two years to expand the state’s Medicaid program to cover Ohio’s working poor.

Approval from the board, which meets Oct. 21, would clear the last hurdle toward expanding Medicaid in Ohio to cover people with incomes up to 138 percent of the poverty level. That group would be able to start getting health insurance coverage on Jan. 1, 2014, said Greg Moody, director of the state’s Office of Health Transformation.

Read entire article here.

Controlling Board Members

130th General Assembly


Sen. Bill Coley-R
Senate Building, Room 140, 
First Floor
Columbus, OH 43215
(614) 466-8072 
Email Senator Coley
Aide: Emily Morrison

Sen. Chris Widener-R
Senate Building, Room 138,
First Floor
Columbus, OH 43215
(614) 466-3780 
Email Senator Widener
Aide: Bryan Stout

Sen. Tom Sawyer-D
Senate Building, Room 049, 
First Floor
Columbus, OH 43215
(614) 466-7041 
Email Senator Sawyer
Aide: Kelsey Bergfeld

Rep. Ron Amstutz-R
Riffe Center, 13th Floor
Columbus, OH 43215
(614) 466-1474
Email Representative Amstutz 
Aide: Jason Whalen

Rep. Cliff Rosenberger-R
Riffe Center, 13th Floor
Columbus, OH 43215
(614) 466-3506
Email Representative Rosenberger
Aide: Benjamin Webb

Rep. Chris Redfern-D
Riffe Center, 10th Floor
Columbus, OH 43215
(614) 644-6011
Email Representative Redfern
Aide: Valarie Johnson
Randy Cole, President

30 E. Broad St., 34th Floor
Columbus, OH 43215-3457
(614) 728-8778

Anne Dean, Executive Secretary

30 E. Broad St., 34th Floor
Columbus, OH 43215-3457
(614) 466-5721


Ohio could save and expand Medicaid, study says
By Joe Vardon | The Columbus Dispatch

8.14.13 - The state could expand its Medicaid program to cover more poor Ohioans and save money over the long haul, according to a new study presented yesterday to a Senate subcommittee.

The savings could be big, too: $200 million next year and nearly $4 billion by 2025, according to the study done by the Health Policy Institute of Ohio and Ohio State University’s John Glenn School of Public Affairs.

Read entire article here

Read entire study and other analysis by Amy Rohling McGee, President, Health Policy Institute of Ohio andWilliam Hayes, PhD, The Ohio State University - Medicaid resources | The Health Policy Institute of Ohio


House Denies Healthcare Services to Ohio's Most Vulnerable
Innovation Ohio  

  • By refusing to expand Medicaid, House Republicans would penalize Ohio hospitals, cost the state $13 billion in federal money over the next 7 years, leave 275,000 low-income Ohioans uninsured, and lose $400 million in taxpayer savings over the next 2 years.
  • New England Journal of Medicine study says Medicaid expansion would save 3,400 Ohio lives annually. Which means 10,000 Ohio lives will be needlessly lost over the next three years --- when the federal government would be picking up 100% of the costs.
  • The House blocks funding for Planned Parenthood, a vital source of healthcare services for thousands of low-income women.
  • House Republicans and their Tea Party allies aren't interested in what makes moral and economic sense; they are only interested in blasting "Obamacare" and re-fighting the last election. They are, in the words of former Republican Gov. Bob Taft's Chief of Staff, "putting politics over people."