Friday, September 13, 2013

Ohio attorney general certifies petition for Access to Healthcare Act

By MICHAEL O'BRIEN  Like Us on Facebook

COLUMBUS — In what could put pressure on Republicans in the Legislature to expand Medicare, Attorney General Mike DeWine Friday certified the petition for the proposed Access to Healthcare Act.

On Sept 4, DeWine’s office received a written petition for initiated statute, entitled “The Access to Healthcare Act,” from the committee to represent the petitioners, Healthy Ohioans WorkThe submission was certified as containing both the necessary 1,000 valid signatures from registered Ohio voters and a “fair and truthful” summary of the proposed amendment.

“Without passing upon the advisability of the approval or rejection of the measure to be referred, I hereby certify that the summary is a fair and truthful statement of the proposed constitutional amendment,” DeWine stated in a letter to the petitioners.

According to the group’s website, Healthy Ohioans Work is a coalition of individuals, community organizations, labor unions, businesses, associations, coalitions, health care providers, insurers, medical professionals, philanthropic organizations, religious organizations, consumer groups and advocates who support Ohio Medicaid expansion.

 “Health and human services advocates, healthcare providers and labor unions together proved their dedication to this vital public policy issue by collecting more than 5,800 signatures in four days’ time and over a holiday weekend,” said Jon Allison, spokesperson for Healthy Ohioans Work. “These devoted individuals and organizations have been advocating for Medicaid extension for many months and will continue to press for legislative action,” Allison added.

Debbie Silverstein, Director of the Single Payer Action Network Ohio (SPAN) welcomed the attorney general’s action while citing the need for the initiative.

“We find it necessary to use the initiative process because the Legislature has failed to do its job,” Silverstein said.

SPAN is a statewide coalition of organizations and individuals in Ohio seeking fundamental health care reform in our state and country so that every resident is guaranteed full and comprehensive coverage.

“Many people think that if you are poor enough, you get Medicaid, but that isn't always true. Non-disabled adults without children are generally excluded from Medicaid, no matter how little they make. Many of those eligible for the Medicaid expansion are employed in low paying jobs without health insurance, and their unreimbursed care is a cost driver for everyone. We must expand coverage to those who are eligible under the Affordable Care Act,” Silverstein added.

According to the attorney general's office, once the summary language and initial signatures are certified, the Ohio Ballot Board must determine if the amendment contains a single issue or multiple issuesThe petitioners must then collect signatures for each issue from registered voters in each of 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties, equal to 1.5 percent of the total vote cast in the county for the office of governor at the last gubernatorial election.

Total signatures collected statewide must also equal 3 percent of the total vote cast for the office of governor at the last gubernatorial election. If enough valid signatures are submitted, the Secretary of State will forward the proposal to the General Assembly, which has four months to act on the proposed law.

If the General Assembly fails to pass the law, either in original or amended form, supplemental petitions may be circulated to have the proposal placed upon the next general election ballot, subject to the same signature requirements.

The full text of today’s letter and of the amendment petitions submitted can be found at

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