Senate President Keith Faber (R-Celina) issued the following statement in response to the Controlling Board's action on Item 40, an appropriation request regarding the state Medicaid program:

"I have repeatedly stated my opposition to the expansion of Medicaid in Ohio, but the governor made this decision without legislative approval.  The legislature removed that executive authority in the most recent version of the state budget, but the governor used his constitutional veto pen to override our action.

The Controlling Board does not have the authority to expand the Medicaid program.  They can either free up federal funds to sustain the program under its new expanded parameters or allow the program to go insolvent.  Failure to fully fund the Medicaid program would likely result in thousands of seniors, women and children facing a sudden loss of health care coverage.

The governor has decided to take this action because he believes it's in the best interest of the state.  While I respectfully disagree, this is not the end of the discussion.  My colleagues and I remain very concerned that Medicaid is on track to consume more than 50 percent of our state budget at the end of this biennium.  That's up 33 percent since 1980, and it's simply not a fiscally sustainable path for our citizens.  With or without expansion, the current system must be reformed.  For that reason, the Senate has taken proactive steps to introduce a comprehensive Medicaid reform plan focused on capping growth and demanding maximum accountability and efficiency.  Our legislation also includes a bicameral, bipartisan committee to oversee the performance of the Medicaid system and the achievement of the established goals.

The Senate will also take immediate steps to recover approximately $400 million state tax dollars allocated to the health care industry in the most recently enacted budget.  These recipients will receive federal dollars under the governor's expansion order, so the state dollars they previously received should be reallocated back to hardworking Ohio families in the form of tax relief.

Finally, the Senate will be introducing legislation to rein in the Controlling Board's ability to make such sweeping adjustments in budget items that are better considered by the legislature as a whole."

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