Long-Term Cost Must Be Acceptable

The cost of government at all levels has increased dramatically during the past several decades in part because too many elected officials go along with new programs that win them votes – but eventually, often after the politicians involved have left public life, cost taxpayers dearly.

Gov. John Kasich is under enormous pressure to expand the state-federal Medicaid program in Ohio. Special interest groups have lined up to endorse such action, which is called for under the national health care law.

It won’t cost Buckeye State taxpayers a dime, they insist. But that isn’t true.

President Barack Obama and liberals in Congress included a provision to give governors political cover. For the first few years of Medicaid expansion, the federal government will cover all costs of adding people to the program.

In Ohio, that could amount to nearly 640,000 new Medicaid clients by 2022. Even then, proponents of the plan note, the state would pay only 10 percent of the cost for the new enrollees.

But that 10 percent would amount to around $550 million a year. That’s a lot of money.

Higher state spending for an expanded Medicaid program would hit only after Kasich leaves office, even if he runs for and is elected to a second term.

Still, the governor, who reportedly will decide on the issue by Feb. 4, needs to keep in mind the long-term cost of expansion to Ohio taxpayers. Kasich should not burden his successors with spending he would not accept during his own administration.