COLUMBUS - Today, House Democratic Whip and State Representative Tracy Maxwell Heard (D-Columbus) cast a “no” vote against Amended Substitute House Bill 59, the biennial budget. The Ohio House of Representatives passed the state budget along partisan lines without including an expansion of Medicaid, despite an overwhelming and likely unprecedented coalition and widespread support throughout the state from many traditionally opposed interest groups.
“The absolute disconnect between House Republicans is astounding, brazen and tragic for the more than 11 million Ohioans dependent on their advocacy and representation, and concerns for their needs,” said Rep. Heard in response to the place-holding amendment Republicans included in lieu of a comprehensive expansion of Medicaid.
“There was an opportunity for a legitimate bipartisan response to one of the largest challenges facing our state in a comprehensive and cost saving manner,” added Rep. Heard. “The message today was a consideration of a possible future conversation with absolutely no commitment to do anything. To deny 275,000 hard-to-serve Ohioans health care is simply callous and hard of heart, but is furthermore fiscally irresponsible. The Republicans chose to reject $13 billion in federal funds and sending Ohioans’ tax dollars to pay for others states’ residents, a laughably inadequate school funding formula, and a local government fund that still fails to restore our communities to pre-2010 levels.”
House Bill 59 will now go to the Ohio Senate where it will be further scrutinized and likely altered. Rep. Heard is hopeful that Senate Democrats and Republicans will see the wisdom of expanding Medicaid, and create a vehicle for the House and Senate to go to a conference committee with Medicaid expansion ultimately included in the bill.