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Politics is big in these parts, and we’ve got it covered. John Arthur Hutchison and other staff writers will offer their inside information on the events, big news and little moments of the local political scene in Lake, Geauga and eastern Cuyahoga counties.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Battle over Ohio's Medicaid expansion continues

The decision Monday by the Ohio Controlling Board to accept federal funding to expand Medicaid to a larger group of Ohio residents garnered national headlines and was noticed by the White House, which devoted a blog post to the news.

Gov. John Kasich, a Republican who pushed for the expansion to cover those who earn up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level despite resistance from the Ohio General Assembly, was applauded by many people and groups across the state and nation for finding a way to get it done.

In Lake County, an estimated 5,000 more people would be eligible to receive Medicaid health care coverage through the expansion, according to Deputy Health Commissioner Ron Graham of the Lake County General Health District.

Policy Matters Ohio, which says it is a nonprofit, nonpartisan policy research organization, estimates the expansion would also save the state $404 million and that money would free up resources that could be used to provide funding for things like hiring police, firefighters, teachers, increasing college aid and providing caseworkers for seniors.

Some state lawmakers have also suggested using any potential savings to provide an additional state income tax cut.

However, not everyone is pleased by the Ohio Controlling Board action. Among those unhappy locally are Republican state Reps. Ron Young of Leroy Township and Matt Lynch of Bainbridge Township.

Both state legislators are among the complainants who after the decision filed legal action with the Ohio Supreme Court against the Ohio Controlling Board and the Ohio Department of Medicaid.

Their argument is not based on Medicaid expansion as a public policy issue, rather the matter essentially is whether the executive branch can implement a major policy over the objections of the General Assembly.

Young distributed a report on Oct. 15 (six days before the Ohio Controlling Board decision) that he titled “The Myths of Medicaid Expansion” and it discusses five items followed by paragraphs of what he terms are reality and his sources of research.

In a nutshell, Young’s report aims to debunk claims that Medicaid offers good health care and that expanding it will save countless lives, Ohio would be foolish to turn down federal dollars to expand the program, people should trust the federal government to live up to its promises, if the expansion doesn't work the state can shut it down and walk away, and Medicaid expansion is an opportunity to reform the program.

The state legislator has opposed Obamacare from the beginning and has not wavered on his stance. His report also says — contrary to what Kasich has previously indicated — that it is impossible to oppose Obamacare and yet support a Medicaid expansion.

Time will tell if the lawsuit has merit and if it will present any change to the decision in Ohio to expand Medicaid.

Politically, it also will be interesting to see if positions on Medicaid prompt any serious challenges next year when all members of the Ohio House of Representatives are up for re-election.

Taken out petitions

Dennis N. LoConti has taken out candidacy petitions to run for Lake County Common Pleas Court judge in 2014. LoConti, a Democrat, has until Feb. 5 to file to run for the office. LoConti also ran for Common Pleas Court judge in the Democratic Party primary in March 2008.

Bar Association blessing

The Lake County Bar Association recently announced Mentor Municipal Court Judge John Trebets received a “highly recommended” endorsement. Trebets is unopposed for re-election to a full six-year term commencing Jan. 1. The endorsement was given after a poll was conducted by the organization’s membership. Trebets received 133 votes, and 132 were favorable.


Geauga County Democratic Party hosts a progressive dinner will be held Nov. 2. It begins at the party headquarters in Newbury Township. Schedule and location directions are sent to those interested after registrations are made.


  • Geauga County Engineer Joe Cattell hosts fall fundraiser 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Oct. 29 at Geauga County Historical Society in Burton Village. See Frank Antenucci.
  • Geauga County Republican Party Christmas Party, Dec. 6 at Chagrin Valley Athletic Club in Bainbridge. See Ed Ryder or Frank Gliha.

John Arthur Hutchison
Twitter: @newsheraldjah

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