Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel says “no” to Kasich’s Medicaid expansion plan

On February 11, 2013, Ohio’s conservative Treasurer of State, Josh Mandel, sent this letter to the Republican Speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives and the Republican President of the Ohio Senate. John Kasich has called for expanding Medicaid in Ohio, and many conservatives are against the plan.

Mandel ran for U.S. Senate in 2012 against Democrat Sherrod Brown, and Brown won re-election.

 

Honorable William Batchelder

Honorable Keith Faber

The Ohio Statehouse

1 Capitol Square

Columbus, Ohio 43215

Dear Speaker Batchelder and President Faber,

As Treasurer of Ohio, I am charged as the state’s chief fiscal officer with the duty of overseeing the collection, disbursement and safekeeping of public funds. Simply put, I act as a fiscal watchdog of Ohioans‘ hard-earned tax dollars. It is with my fiscal duties in mind that I write today and urge you to prudently consider the long-term financial implications of voluntarily implementing the Medicaid expansion in Ohio and to reject this expansion during the budget process.

Though the federal government is promising to pay for most of the expansion in the near term, it is currently borrowing approximately 40 cents of every dollar it spends. I am concerned that expanding Medicaid in Ohio will overwhelm an already broken system and place an unbearable burden on generations of Ohioans.

I appreciate that you are being forced to choose between two undesirable options — because the Affordable Care Act (also known as “Obamacare”) was designed this way. Voting against the Medicaid expansion means that Ohio would receive less federal funding. Voting for the Medicaid expansion would, as I have described, burden current and future generations of Ohioans with even more federal debt and eventually increase the state’s funding of Medicaid. While the proposed “opt-out” trigger is a well-intentioned safeguard to retract Medicaid’s expansion if the federal government reduces its funding share, I am concerned whether such a safeguard would be honored in the future, because history has shown that once a government benefit is given it is rarely taken away.

There is no free money. While expanding Medicaid may direct more federal dollars to Ohio in the nest few years, in the long-term Ohioans will have to repay the debt that is funding federal government spending. The federal government has an approximate $16.4 trillion national debt, and entitlement spending alone is projected to consume all revenue by 2045. If Ohio’s leaders take the bait today, I fear that generations of Ohio taxpayers will be on the hook for the long-term costs of expanding Medicaid.

As Ohioans, we share a common fate with all Americans. Whether taxed by the state or the federal government, the Ohio taxpayers of tomorrow will inevitably shoulder the costs of a debt-funded Medicaid expansion. For these reasons, I urge you to reject an expansion of Medicaid in Ohio.

Sincerely,

Josh Mandel

State Treasurer of Ohio

cc: Governor John Kasich

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