This morning in the Ohio Statehouse, Healthy Ohioans announced that they are starting a citizen-initiated campaign to put Medicaid Expansion on the ballot. With this extension it would provide for a higher availability of Healthcare with lower costs of medicine for hard working people. The speakers sharing stories of why they feel this issue should be put before the voters in November, 2014 were Jon Allison, spokesperson for Healthy Ohioans Work, Janet Polzer of Athens and Judy Maldonado of Lorain. Polzer shared her own family history on managing behavioral health issues so that other families in Ohio will receive help. Maldonado, who is a registered nurse and Member Vice President of SEIU District 1199, spoke on the need for this extension from a daily health care giver perspective.
In February, Governor John Kasich proposed the state extend healthcare coverage to cover those making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. Although, through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the federal government has said to pay for 100 percent of the cost with extending Medicaid in 2014 through 2016, Ohio legislature would not authorize it.
"Waiting to place this issue before the voters in November 2014, is not an ideal scenario. Practically speaking, receiving voter approval in late 2014 means that Ohio will forgo 100 percent federal funding for 2014 and, most importantly, will lose the ability to provide much needed health care coverage for more than 275,000 Ohioans in need. We urge the General Assembly to act in 2013 and help transform the lives of our working poor," Allison states.
The Ohio constitution requires 1,000 valid signatures be filed with the initial petition. After the initial petition is filed there must be three steps that follow to insure that the proposed law be placed before voters in the November 2014 general election. The first step to be enacted requires 115,574 valid signatures with the Secretary of State no less than 10 days before the 2014 legislative session begins.
The second step is that the proposed law be presented to the General Assembly and allow four months for them to consider it. If the General Assembly does not pass the proposed law, it is passed in an amended form or takes no action within four months from the date it was received by the General Assembly. Supplemental petitions will then be circulated by petitioners demanding the proposed law be submitted to Ohio voters at the next general election.
In the final step, petitioners must file a supplemental petition with another 115,574 valid signatures that must be signed and filed with the Secretary of State within 90 days after the General Assembly fail to enact the proposed law which may pass it in amended form or take no action within the four months it was received by the General Assembly. The petition must then be filed no later than 125 days before the election at which the initiative is to be placed on the ballot.
Allison stated during the press conference that he is still hopeful that this process will begin this year instead of waiting next year to be voted on. He also stated that there will be a 10 to 15 million dollar campaign looking for volunteers and petitions.
"I want to be clear today that Healthy Ohioans Work is a sincere and serious effort. We respect that many in the General Assembly continue to consider Medicaid extension and reform, and we stand ready to work in partnership. We anticipate that many of the hundreds of groups that have been pushing for legislative action Medicaid extension are prepared to bring their volunteers, voices and funds to the table to make this initiative process a success if need be," stated Allison.