When it comes to the last two years, at least at the state level, there hasn’t been a lot to complain about with Ohio government, especially with respect to the leadership of Governor John Kasich. Since taking over for the walking, talking, bumbling, stumbling failure that is former-Governor Ted Strickland, Kasich has:
- Balanced an $8 billion structural budget deficit without raising taxes
- Actually cut taxes and eliminated the death tax
- Has created 133,000 jobs, after Strickland oversaw the loss of some 400,000 Ohio jobs
- Has attracted numerous companies as Ohio has become far more business friendly
And much, much more. It’s been a successful two years, to be sure, and it’s the reason why Governor Kasich is in excellent position for his reelection bid come 2014. That said, the healthcare mandate covering pervasive developmental disorders (i.e. autism), passed by executive action yesterday defining “essential health benefits,” deserved a much broader conversation.
From the Cleveland Plain Dealer:
Services including occupational therapy and psychiatric care will be available beginning in 2014 through state employee health insurance, health insurance plans sold on the private market and the forthcoming federally mandated health insurance exchange.
Now, I’m certainly no expert on the cost-benefit of certain healthcare mandates. It very well may be the best public policy to cover the treatment for these disorders while children are young, thus preempting the need for future–possibly more expensive–government assistance down the road. That may very well be the case. But unfortunately, the Ohio public didn’t get to have that debate.
In the Ohio House and Ohio Senate, two companion bills (sponsored by Rep. Grossman & Rep. Terhar and Sen. Seitz, respectively) received proponent testimony in the last few weeks, yet both chambers adjourned sine die before any counter-arguments could be offered.
And the only real argument I have is, if this is a good public policy move, then why not mandate that big businesses also provide coverage? As defined, the mandate only covers state insurance plans, and those bought on the private market, but fails to mandate coverage for children insured under ERISA plans (those self-insured, bigger businesses in the state).
There very well might be an answer to that question, but it didn’t get the opportunity to be asked.
Once again, I write this with no complaints on the policy in question–smarter people than I have probably analyzed this issue from almost every angle–but rather, I wish the House, Senate and administration would have provided for further review of this important issue.
At the end of the day, my issue is about process over policy. And with all the good that this legislature and Governor Kasich have done in the last two years, it’s a minor thing in a rather sterling record, making Ohio the most business friendly state in the Midwest. But with the second half of Governor Kasich’s first term on the horizon, coupled with GOP supermajorities in both chambers of the Ohio legislature, it’s best to remind everyone that Ohioans deserve a full review of important issues such as this.
Of course, now that I’ve highlighted where I disagree with a GOP policy move, I anxiously await our liberal brethren agreeing with it… But I won’t hold my breath.
You can follow Jake3BP, formerly GOHP Blog, on Twitter @Jake3BP.