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Lawsuit filed to stop Medicaid expansion in Ohio

Six Republican state lawmakers and two anti-abortion groups filed suit Tuesday against the state and state Controlling Board for expanding Medicaid against the “legislative intent” of the General Assembly.

The lawsuit asks the Ohio Supreme Court to intervene and reverse the $2.56 billion appropriation made Monday by the Controlling Board and the Ohio Department of Medicaid’s decision to add more Ohioans to state Medicaid rolls.

As promised, Maurice Thompson, executive director of the 1851 Constitutional Law Center, is representing the plaintiffs: Reps. Ron Maag of Lebanon, John Becker of Union Twp., Andy Thompson of Marietta, Ron Hood of Ashville, Matt Lynch of Solon and Ron Young of Leroy; and Cleveland Right to Life and Right to Life of Greater Cincinnati. Ohio Right to Life supported Medicaid expansion.

The Controlling Board, a little-known panel that oversees state spending, decided in a 5-2 vote Monday to release more than $2.56 billion in federal dollars to the Ohio Department of Medicaid. The money will pay for 366,000 Ohioans to join the state’s Medicaid rolls, an estimated net increase of 275,000 people who do not have employer-provided health insurance or cannot afford private insurance on the new health insurance exchanges.

Ohio law authorizes the seven-member board to approve expenditures beyond the state’s two-year budget but prohibits the board from taking any action against the “legislative intent of the General Assembly.”

Greg Moody, director of the governor’s Office of Health Transformation, told lawmakers on Monday the administration believed the board legally has the authority to approve the request.

“We believe this action is appropriate,” Moody said. “We were very careful to understand the nature of the authority that’s involved. We believe that we would prevail in a challenge, but it is not within our control to predict what the nature of that challenge might be.”

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