Medicaid expansion advocates protest lawmakers’ proposed freeze

Governor John Kasich vetoed the budget proposal and now Ohio lawmakers are considering an override

Medicaid freeze protest, Columbus

COLUMBUS (WKBN) – The Ohio House of Representatives is expected to vote Thursday on overriding Governor John Kasich’s veto on freezing Medicaid expansion.

The three key words there — “is expected to” — because if there are not enough votes to override, the vote could get canceled.

On the statehouse steps in Columbus earlier Wednesday, a few hundred people protested the possibility of an override.

Tyler Wiseman, a recovering drug addict from Waverly, Ohio, joined them.

“I’ve been in treatment for about 60 days now and my life has changed so much since coming into treatment,” he said.

Wiseman is among 700,000 Ohioans who have access to Medicaid because of expanded eligibility.

Last week, state lawmakers sent Gov. Kasich a budget that included a proposed freeze on enrollment. He sent them back a veto.

Kasich’s administration says 500,000 people could lose coverage in the first year and a half.

Now lawmakers are considering an override.

“This is bad public policy for the State of Ohio,” said Lisa Hamler Fuggit, executive director of the Ohio Association of Foodbanks.

She said Kasich “has shown phenomenal leadership.”

“We are asking the House and Senate to also follow in his footsteps. Do not turn back. Do not close the door. Do not deny people access to health care.”

Advocates hope to apply pressure on Republican lawmakers. House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger could not say Wednesday whether there are enough Republican votes to override the veto.

“I think members have passion on either side and we’ve heard a lot from hospitals across the state,” he said. “So it’s all going to come down to whether or not we have the members that want to do this and where we’re at with it.”

For the House to override Kasich’s veto, approval is needed in three-fifths of each chamber — that means 60 votes in the 99-member House. Of the 66 Republicans in the House, 59 voted in favor of the entire budget bill.

The 33-member Senate plans to vote next week and needs 20 votes. A week ago, 24 of them voted to pass the budget.

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