Senator Peggy Lehner Shafts Her Colleagues on Medicaid Expansion Freeze

By Scott Pullins for 3rd Rail Politics


State Senator Peggy Lehner (R) – Fordham Institute Kettering has sold out her colleagues after the Ohio General Assembly once again—this time regarding the biennial budget.  Now they know how Ohio school children feel (as 3rd Rail Politics has repeatedly reported).  

So what happened?

Lehner made headlines this week when she urged Ohio Governor John Kasich to line item veto the legislative passed freeze in enrollment of the Obamacare Medicaid expansion.  And then she took it a couple steps further.  “I will vote to sustain the veto,” Lehner said in the Dayton Daily News.  “And I am not at all sure that the Senate has the votes to override.”

It would be one thing if Senator Peggy Lehner were actually a liberal Democrat, instead of just playing one on TV.  It would also be different if Lehner were a philosophical fiscal conservative.  Or even if she were the Majority Whip with responsibility for actually counting votes.    

Lehner is none one of these.  

She voted for the budget, which included the Medicaid expansion freeze, in committee and on the Senate floor.  Interestingly, not once did she speak in opposition to this freeze on the Senate floor.  She also never spoke in opposition to the freeze in the Senate Finance Committee, on which she sits.  A review of numerous committee videos shows that she has never spoken in opposition to this freeze at all, until now—when the General Assembly’s Republican leaders are quietly assessing whether they have the votes and the will to override.

It gets worse.  On June 22, 2017 Senator Peggy Lehner actually issued a news release praising the state budget.  In it, she said the following:


"This was a very challenging budget but I feel overall that the neediest in our state have been protected and I hope that the conference committee will continue building on the work that has been done," said Lehner, who serves as a member of the Senate Finance Committee that is charged with balancing the state's two-year budget. "I am especially proud of what we were able to achieve in supporting children in drug-affected families."


The news release also contained the following paragraphs in support of the Obamacare Medicaid expansion freeze:


"The fallout from Obamacare has left many Ohio counties without adequate health care insurance options. As the program continues to be financially unsustainable, the Senate instituted reforms to both contain growth and ensure access to Medicaid services for Ohioans who need them most. This includes requiring the state to file a Section 1332 Innovation Waiver by January 2018 to get Ohio more flexibility to regulate its own insurance market, free of federal mandates.

It also controls costs by seeking a Section 1115 waiver for the "Healthy Ohio" program, freezing Medicaid expansion in July 2018 and allowing the state the ability to hit the pause button while the Senate evaluates federal changes.”

State Senator Peggy Lehner has made a career out of playing on both sides of the fence.  She says she’s for school choice and supports charter schools but she’s done everything she can to shut them down.  Now she voted for Medicaid reform but publicly takes the other side after the fact.  Honest, well-meaning politicians can take either side of this issue.  Lehner tries to take both.  In the process, her Senate colleagues are getting a taste of how she operates.