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The Ohio Legislature has been out on its summer recess for almost two weeks, but Gov. John Kasich (R) has not given up hope lawmakers will return to Columbus sooner than later to green light his call to expand the Buckeye State's Medicaid rolls. At a pro-expansion rally last week, Kasich reiterated his message that it is a moral issue, saying Americans "need to beat back this image that when somebody's poor, somehow they are lazy." Kasich has proposed broadening Medicaid eligibility to include people with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $15,800 a year. Doing so would add about 366,000 people to the current Medicaid rolls. But that idea — a major tenet of the Affordable Care Act — has not gone over well with the Republicans who control both legislative houses. Leaders there have rejected Kasich's proposal, though they have said they would work on a separate proposal that would be ready by the end of the summer. That has not been good enough for some Democrats, who want Kasich to take a more forceful approach with his colleagues. Last week, House Minority Leader Tracy Heard and Rep. Mike Foley challenged Kasich to gather the Republicans needed to try to force an expansion vote and questioned Kasich's motivation in spending his time appealing to groups who already support his proposal. Both addressed reporters before the rally, urging the governor to focus his energy instead on convincing his own party. "It's very frustrating that we're continuing to see (Kasich) reach out to our side, reach out to the advocates on this issue. We really need him to reach out to the Republican caucus," Heard said. ut Kasich called for patience and respect for the political process, saying "I don't care what it takes. We are going to get this done." (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, CINCINNATI ENQUIRER)
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