|By Michael Douglas, The Akron Beacon Journal|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
The past three months, he has continued to press the case, and now a pivotal moment has arrived. Lawmakers return to work this week, the window of opportunity narrowing, the new health insurance exchange launching in two days, the Affordable Care Act kicking into high gear at the start of the new year.
Will the state expand
Since June, Republicans in charge of the legislature have been repeating their own message. They reject the idea of expansion, even coming from the governor, their fellow party member. They pitch "reform," changing the program to slow rising costs and promote personal responsibility.
What they fail to appreciate are the many advances already made on this front.
Few states have been as aggressive or as clever in the cause. On Tuesday, the state will take a leap forward, triggering the replacement of a three-decades-old system for determining
More, the new technology will allow for the equivalent of a one-stop evaluation of eligibility for the range of income-based programs, including welfare and food assistance. The system also will communicate with the health insurance exchange, together serving as a navigation component, directing those without coverage to the proper place,
Count on glitches surfacing early. Bet safely, too, that here is a platform for making
The lack of legislative appreciation extends further. The Republican majorities have paid little heed to the concerns of hospitals.
The Affordable Care Act assumes that with more people having health insurance, the federal government will not spend as much helping hospitals with the cost of uncompensated care. A state that fails to expand
Chambers of commerce have warned about harming the business climate if the state fails to expand
Neither has the argument for widening opportunity. Expand
What does concern Republican lawmakers is the bottom line for the state and federal budgets. They argue that the expansion is unaffordable. They worry about getting stuck with the bill if the federal government reneges on its commitment to cover 100 percent of the expansion cost for three years and then to 90 percent.
Put aside that the governor has a provision that would allow the state to withdraw if the federal government made such a move. Know that if the state does not go forward with the expansion and those eligible move into the insurance exchange, the federal government will pick up the cost, anyway, via the subsidies it would provide for health coverage.
And if those eligible do not qualify for the exchange, which is how things stand, the feds thinking they would receive
This is a program worthy of expansion, especially in a state that has reduced income tax rates by roughly one-third the past decade, largely benefiting wealthier households. Expansion is something the state can afford, the increased spending negligible,
Douglas is the
(c)2013 the Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)
Visit the Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio) at www.ohio.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services