Ohio following a prudent course

The question of just how much power the states should have over their own futures is being played out in legislatures across the nation.

The issue is just what to do about the federally proposed expansion of Medicaid.

In Ohio’s case, that means nearly $14 million could be coming from the federal government to provide coverage for more than 300,000 Ohioans. Under Obamacare, Medicaid would be expanded to 138 percent of the federal poverty income guideline, but the Supreme Court gave states the right to choose participation in the expansion.

The expansion of the program is not without merit when it comes to taking care of the health of individuals who are unable to pay for their own care, but it also calls to mind the specter of an all-providing government that is unable to pay its own bills.

The latter view has rightly won in Ohio.

It is easy to say “yes” to a pot of federal gold being dangled in front of a cash-strapped state government, but it is more prudent to ask just what the offer means in terms of viability – of the program and of the nation.

State Rep. Ron Maag, a Republican from Lebanon, put it best during a discussion with the Ohio Hospital Association recently when he referred to the financial crises in Greece and Cyprus, where the governments that had provided all kinds of benefits to their citizens are now facing hard times and cutting back, amid an angered populace.

Maag said while he doesn’t know where the tipping point is in the United States, he thinks the nation is getting close.

Gov. John Kasich had wanted the Medicaid expansion and the administration continues to talk with the Obama administration about possible flexibility for states. Kasich wants to see if the state can obtain a waiver and allow people who earn from 100 percent to 138 percent of the federal poverty level to instead buy insurance from the insurance exchanges that are formed under the Obamacare law.

That is a prudent course of action, and certainly one that took more courage for the state than simply accepting the addicting allure of federal money from a deficit-mad national government.