Dispatch Gives Gov. Kasich a Pass on False Medicaid Expansion Claims

The Columbus Dispatch still has not challenged the Kasich Administration’s false claims about Medicaid expansion funding, which the paper summarized or quoted in 8 news stories between February 13 and April 6.

Seeking to build support for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) Medicaid expansion, Governor John Kasich and Governor’s Office of Health Transformation Director Greg Moody have warned that “Ohio’s” Medicaid expansion funds will go to other states if legislators reject the expansion, which is not true.

States that expand Medicaid will get the same amount of funding regardless of what Ohio does. There is no defined pot of federal money being divvied up, but rather the promise of perpetual funding under PPACA’s terms for states implementing Medicaid expansion.

Media Trackers first explained this relatively simple concept in mid-February, and has informed multiple Dispatch reporters and editors in the four months since.

The Kasich Administration has also described as “Ohio’s tax dollars” the estimated $13 billion in federal funding Ohio would receive receive in the next 7 years via the PPACA Medicaid expansion, frequently claiming Medicaid expansion would “return” $13 billion to the state.

This is extremely misleading for reasons that should be obvious to anyone who understands the difference between state and federal spending.

Nonetheless, Dispatch reporters cited the governor’s claims about PPACA Medicaid expansion funding in eight news stories published over the course of nearly two months.

The Dispatch expressed no skepticism at the time, and has made no effort to hold Gov. Kasich accountable since.

“In all, the Kasich administration equates that to about $13 billion in taxpayer money coming back to the state over seven years.”

Mandel: Don’t expand Medicaid
Author – Joe Vardon

“‘Would I rather take the money and not spend it and drive down the deficit? Absolutely, but that’s not a choice,’ Moody told lawmakers. […] ‘If we don’t spend it, it’s not like that money will be saved. We are still paying it in our federal taxes,’ he said. ‘The question is: Is the money coming back to Ohio, or is it going somewhere else?'”

GOP chafes at Kasich’s plan to expand Medicaid
Author – Catherine Candisky

“Kasich defends it because of the $13 billion he says it will return to Ohio over seven years […]”

Kasich implores GOP to expand Medicaid
Author – Joe Vardon

“The federal government would fully fund the program for three years and partially fund it for several years beyond that. Kasich said it will return $13 billion to Ohio over seven years.”

Religious groups push for Kasich’s Medicaid expansion
Author – JoAnne Viviano

“Kasich said his proposed expansion of Medicaid would help battle the prescription-drug epidemic in southern Ohio by bringing back $13 billion to the state over seven years.”

Governor defends plans to GOP crowd
Author – Joe Vardon

“As Kasich makes his case to expand Medicaid, he says doing so would result in $13 billion in taxpayer money coming back to Ohio from Washington over seven years. Under new health-care rules, states could choose to expand Medicaid programs with money that Kasich says residents have already paid in federal taxes, so a state-funded option would be duplicative.”

Medicaid alternatives developing
Author – Joe Vardon
“‘We should not shoot ourselves in the foot and send our tax dollars to another state to be spent. It is not fair to the taxpayers of the state of Ohio, plain and simple,’ Kasich said in his State of the State speech this year.”

Opposition mounts to Medicaid plan
Authors – Jim Siegel & Catherine Candisky

In this story, the Dispatch quoted Senate President Keith Faber (R-Celina) as saying, “If Ohio doesn’t expand, it’s just less the federal government has to borrow from China and give our kids the credit-card bill” – but not before undermining Faber with a suggestion that his opposition was merely ideological.

“That argument does not appear to be gaining traction in a legislature loaded with Republicans who strongly oppose the federal health-care law,” the Dispatch wrote of a patently false Kasich Admin argument none of their reporters or editors have yet acknowledged is untrue.

“Kasich has stated opposition to using state funding, arguing it essentially forces Ohioans to pay twice.”

Medicaid expansion foundering
Authors – Catherine Candisky & Jim Siegel


[Editor’s note, 06/24/2013: I realized after publication that the governor’s false Medicaid expansion funding talking points were included in 02/13/2013, 03/04/2013, and 04/02/2013 Dispatch news stories. This story has been modified to reflect that]