Newspaper’s Attacks Fail to Force Medicaid Expansion into Ohio Budget

Governor John Kasich signed Ohio’s biennial budget on June 30 with no expansion of Medicaid, despite months of relentless Columbus Dispatch attacks on the policy’s critics. In six Dispatch news stories published from February 4 to June 18, reporters suggested that opponents of expanding Medicaid are driven by thoughtless ideology.

Coincidentally, the Dispatch editorial board has long insisted there are no serious arguments against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) Medicaid expansion, going so far as to declare on April 28 that “opposition to Medicaid expansion is purely ideological.”

Either deliberately or as a result of ignorance, Dispatch editors and reporters neglected to cover obvious, important arguments against the PPACA Medicaid expansion. Only by overlooking these facts could Ohio’s most influential newspaper so thoroughly misrepresent the expansion’s critics.

The Dispatch never acknowledged that Gov. Kasich’s Medicaid expansion funding rhetoric is false, that studies have shown the failure of Medicaid expansion in other states, or that hospitals do not need Medicaid expansion nearly as badly as executives claim.

The paper’s writers also refused to offer any real consideration of long-term costs of the PPACA Medicaid expansion.

The following Dispatch news stories published between 02/04/2013 and 06/18/2013 promoted the outrageous narrative that Medicaid expansion opponents are motivated by blind ideology.

“While the Web column drew many negative comments, the more-important audience for Kasich is his fellow Republicans in the legislature, some of whom question the expansion simply because it was part of President Barack Obama’s health-care plan.”

Kasich downplays Medicaid expansion
Darrel Rowland

“He said Plouck left his office in tears – happy – a few months ago when he told her he planned to expand Medicaid services, a move opposed by many fellow Republicans because it’s an offshoot of President Barack Obama’s health-care program.”

Rally backs expanding Medicaid coverage
Alan Johnson

“That argument does not appear to be gaining traction in a legislature loaded with Republicans who strongly oppose the federal health-care law.”

Opposition mounts to Medicaid plan
Jim Siegel & Catherine Candisky
“The ‘Obamacare’ label could doom Gov. John Kasich’s plan to accept billions in federal dollars to cover 275,000 more uninsured poor Ohioans.”
“Despite weeks of public and private attempts at persuasion, the governor faces an unrelenting rebellion within his own party from lawmakers who oppose expanding Medicaid or even the remotest association with President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.”
“[…] seemingly nothing Kasich or supporters say can detach his plan from a federal health-care law that is reviled in most GOP circles.”

Medicaid expansion foundering
Catherine Candisky & Jim Siegel

“While tea party groups claimed credit for killing the Medicaid expansion allowed under the federal Affordable Care Act, others said it failed because of an ingrained hatred of Obamacare across GOP constituencies.”

Battle lines solidify in Medicaid debate
Joe Hallett & Catherine Candisky

“They rejected [the PPACA Medicaid expansion] mostly because it’s associated with Obamacare.”

Mental Hell: Overwhelmed, underfunded
Alan Johnson & Catherine Candisky

Media Trackers contacted Johnson and Candisky about this claim and the similar statement Johnson made in a 03/15/2013 story. Candisky did not respond; Johnson dodged questions and pretended he did not know his editors’ opinions on the issue.