Kasich Repeats Refuted Obamacare Talking Points at Cleveland Clinic

John Kasich
Governor John Kasich (R)

Governor John Kasich repeated his well-worn routine of calling billions in new federal spending “our money” and insisting the Obamacare Medicaid expansion is “what the Lord wants” during a speech this morning at the Cleveland Clinic.

“It’s our money! This is not, like, somebody else’s money,” Gov. Kasich said of the Obamacare Medicaid expansion funding he seeks to spend in Ohio.

As Media Trackers first explained in February, this — like other talking points the Republican governor has used to justify his flight from fiscal responsibility — is not true.

“Bringing our dollars back and helping these people to get their lives back is so right,” Kasich said later in his Cleveland Clinic speech. Over the course of approximately 20 minutes, Kasich made variations of this false claim a total of 5 times.

Robert Alt of The Buckeye Institute, Michael Cannon of Cato Institute, Matt Mayer of Opportunity Ohio, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, and even Dennis Smith, who served as Medicaid director at the national Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) under President George W. Bush, have all refuted Kasich’s deceptive description of how the Obamacare Medicaid expansion works.

With billions per year in taxpayer money at stake, at no point during the 8-month fight over the Obamacare expansion has any member of Ohio’s legacy press acknowledged this.

After attesting to how easy his decision on Medicaid expansion was because of his religious faith, Kasich said that critics “don’t understand the problem” the Obamacare expansion will address.

“This is not a program designed to encourage dependency,” Gov. Kasich said defensively.

However, a Tennessee study published this summer by the National Bureau of Economic Research projected Medicaid expansion would slash states’ work forces and reduce the number of citizens with private health insurance. The Buckeye Institute has explained that any waivers Ohio may receive for enforcing work requirements would be temporary and at the whim of CMS.

The Foundation for Government Accountability has been pointing out since this winter that recent Medicaid expansions in Arizona, Delaware, Maine, and Oregon have not reduced the percentage of each state’s population without health insurance. Instead, Medicaid expansion has pushed people from private coverage into reliance on the government.

A separate study from Oregon published this May in The New England Journal of Medicine concluded that Medicaid coverage did not improve recipients’ physical health, and did not lead to less emergency room utilization.

As with Gov. Kasich’s false claims about Obamacare funding, his assurances that more Ohioans will have health insurance and care if Ohio expands Medicaid have been not been challenged in the legacy press.

Because Ohio’s media are willing accomplices in — rather than watchdogs of — Gov. Kasich’s push for billions per year in new entitlement spending, his rhetoric is repeated free from any contradictory facts.

The Obamacare Medicaid expansion will result in an estimated $13 billion in new federal spending in Ohio over the next 7 years. Even assuming the deeply-indebted federal government keeps its promises, Ohio is expected to be on the hook for nearly $500 million per year in additional Medicaid costs by 2020.

“Medicaid expansion is important to the financial health of our state,” said a Cleveland Clinic spokeswoman in her October 18 introduction of the governor.

Among the talking points used to sell the Obamacare expansion to the public, the Ohio Hospital Association and its members insist more Medicaid spending is needed to soften the blow of charity care offset cuts included in Obamacare.

In 2011, prior to any Obamacare cuts to charity care funding, 0.01 percent of the Cleveland Clinic’s total revenue came from charity care offsetting funds. The Cleveland Clinic would have netted over $245 million without receiving even $1 for charity care.

[Editor’s note, 12/23/2013: Corrected Mr. Smith’s title to reflect that he was the Medicaid director at CMS, not the head of CMS.]