Ohio

Gov. Kasich Still Supports Obamacare Medicaid Expansion

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Governor John Kasich told reporters last week that he supports expanding Medicaid “however we get there,” endorsing a possible campaign to pass Medicaid expansion as a ballot issue. The Ohio House removed Medicaid expansion from the state budget last month, and the Ohio Senate has indicated its priority is Medicaid reform.

“I would love to think that this could be done, that the Legislature could do it, and I haven’t given up hope on that at all,” Kasich said at a National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Ohio event on May 8, according to The Associated Press.

Gov. Kasich, who has pushed Medicaid expansion with progressive rhetoric and promises it would free up money for mental health programs, told the NAMI Ohio rally that “we have to tell people about why it matters and who the folks are that have to battle each and every day the challenges that come with mental illness.”

A central component of President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), Medicaid expansion would increase Ohio’s annual Medicaid costs by at least $500 million by 2021. Ohio’s reputedly conservative governor is nonetheless fighting for the PPACA Medicaid expansion because it would bring billions of dollars in new federal deficit spending to the state.

Gov. Kasich has falsely claimed the PPACA Medicaid expansion would be paid for using “Ohio’s tax dollars” which will be sent elsewhere if Ohio does not expand Medicaid, and has attempted to construe his pursuit of PPACA funds as something other than an embrace of Obama’s unpopular 2010 health insurance law.

The governor’s most recent endorsement of Medicaid expansion came one week after The New England Journal of Medicine released findings from an Oregon Medicaid study showing “that Medicaid coverage generated no significant improvements in measured physical health outcomes” in the first two years.

Six days before Kasich said he supports expanding Medicaid “however we get there,” the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) reported that small business owners in Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, Texas, Kansas, and Missouri had sued the IRS and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) over an IRS rule meant to prop up PPACA in states without state-run insurance exchanges.

“The Obama administration plans to tax, borrow, and spend more than half a trillion dollars in clear violation of Obamacare, yet still says Obamacare is ‘the law of the land,’” Cato Institute health policy director Michael Cannon told CEI.

Last November, Cannon explained that states should reject both PPACA insurance exchanges and Medicaid expansion in order to block PPACA’s implementation and force reform. A year earlier, Cannon and Case Western Reserve University Professor Jonathan Adler shined a spotlight on the IRS rule as an attempt “to rewrite the law by fiat.”

Cannon, one of America’s leading free market voices, refuted the Kasich administration’s Medicaid expansion talking points during March 13 testimony before the Ohio House. The governor has made no discernible effort to address Cannon’s criticisms, instead relying on Ohio’s legacy press to ignore arguments against the PPACA Medicaid expansion.

Shortly after the Ohio General Assembly refused Gov. Kasich’s calls to expand Medicaid as part of the biennial budget, The Washington Post reported that only 20 states have agreed to adopt the PPACA Medicaid expansion.

As Media Trackers reported in February, Governor Kasich did not seek the input of conservative health policy experts prior to announcing on February 4 that he wanted to expand Medicaid. Instead, Kasich worked with the socialized medicine advocates at the Universal Health Care Action Network of Ohio (UHCAN Ohio) on messaging to pressure the Republican-controlled legislature.

Kasich’s continued support for expanding the enormous entitlement program follows months of deceptive marketing from the Republican governor, health industry lobbying groups, progressive activists, and left-wing journalists.