Ohio’s heretofore conservative governor, John Kasich, has decided he will accept federal money to expand Medicaid benefits—a move that puts him on the side of ObamaCare.
Conservatives are furious: Chris Littleton, the Ohio director for American Majority Action, said, “The conservative grass roots and average voters are not going to support this in any way, shape or form.”
Nicole Kaeding, state policy manager for Americans for Prosperity, the Tea Party group, added:
Medicaid is a broken, costly system that needs meaningful reform; expanding the system to include another 365,000 individuals is exactly the wrong policy for Ohio families. Instead of trapping families in a system that doesn’t work, Gov. Kasich should devote his efforts and activities to forcing Columbus and Washington to pass badly needed reforms.
Ted Stevenot, president of the Ohio Liberty Coalition, agreed, saying, “How can that be good for Ohio to have more people dependent on government? How can it be good for us politically, economically? I just don’t see it.”
Four other GOP governors have caved along with Kasich; nine have refused to do so, including Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Rick Perry of Texas.
Kasich asserts that the money from the feds will let him spend more money on mental health and other services, as well as lower health insurance premiums for the general public because those newly insured under the Medicaid expansion won’t be cluttering up emergency rooms. He also admitted that White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett told him that the White House might give Ohio “special flexibility” for caving in.
According to the Supreme Court decision okaying ObamaCare, states still have the option of refusing expanded Medicaid coverage, but Kasich isn’t exercising that option. Under Kasich’s new plans, as many as 578,000 uninsured Ohio residents will get coverage.
The Cato Institute’s Michael Cannon sees the emperor’s new clothes: “He can’t do what most governors do, by pretending that that money is free. He knows better than anyone that that money is not free. Every dollar that is spent on Medicaid expansion increases the deficit.”
But fellow Ohioan John Boehner said through his spokesman that Kasich isn’t that far out of line:
Gov. Kasich is no fan of Obamacare, and he’s proven it repeatedly with his actions. Governors are playing the hand they’ve been dealt by the Obama administration. Gov. Kasich said a strong ‘no’ to a state-run exchange and to federal takeovers of insurance regulation and Medicaid eligibility. Ohioans applauded him for these actions, and they trust that he’s doing his best to minimize the law’s harmful effects on our state as Republicans at all levels work for its repeal.
The hospitals are delighted; Jonathan Archey, a top lobbyist at the Ohio Hospital Association, said: “What is unique about Gov. Kasich is the long view he takes toward Medicaid reform. It’s not a rifle-shot approach. It is a comprehensive approach that is taking place over multiple budgets.” Oliver Henkel, chief external affairs officer at the Cleveland Clinic stated, “We’re telling him we have his back on this.”
But Littleton summed it up. “Once you create things like this, history shows that they always expand. There’s no way you can keep costs in check.”