Ohio

Gov. Kasich Tugs Heartstrings, Spins Falsehoods at Medicaid Expansion Rally

Policy
Gov. Kasich addresses Statehouse rally for Medicaid expansion

Governor John Kasich stuck to his practiced Medicaid expansion pitch – a mix of progressive pseudo-Christianity and outright falsehoods about the program’s funding – during a speech at a July 9 Statehouse rally for socialized medicine.

As his administration has done for months, the Republican governor conflated Medicaid coverage with “health care,” though 28 percent of Ohio’s office-based physicians were already refusing new Medicaid patients in 2011 and a recent study found that Medicaid coverage does not improve physical health.

Gov. Kasich’s complete July 9 speech on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) Medicaid expansion follows, starting with two particularly interesting excerpts.

Gov. Kasich made a passing reference to the national debt in the course of repeating the entirely untrue claim that “Ohio’s” PPACA funding will go to other states if the General Assembly refuses to expand Medicaid.

“I don’t want our dollars to be spent somewhere else,” Kasich said, “Because, you know, I worked in Washington long enough to know they don’t ever save anything.”

Kasich also insisted DC’s failure to enact effective health reforms “should not prevent Ohio from reclaiming our dollars to deal with our problem.”

Since February 6, the governor has assured legislators, the press, and the public that the estimated $13 billion in federal funding Ohio could receive by expanding Medicaid would be “Ohio’s tax dollars.” This is not true.

For more than five months, no member of Ohio’s legacy media has made any attempt to hold the Kasich Administration accountable for methodically misleading Ohioans about billions per year in new government spending. At The Columbus Dispatch, editors and news reporters alike have openly advocated for the PPACA Medicaid expansion.

“Now is the time” to expand Medicaid, each of the speakers at the July 9 event repeated. Appreciation for Gov. Kasich was also a consistent theme of the 45-minute rally, of which Kasich’s rambling speech comprised nearly 17 minutes.

Public officials and representatives of social services groups touted the supposed benefits of increasing Ohio’s Medicaid spending by billions per biennium and federal Medicaid spending by billions per year: better care for Ohio’s poor, veterans, mentally ill, and drug-addicted, which supporters claim would make Ohio safer and more prosperous.

“The [PPACA] presents businesses with a number of challenges – challenges that the state did not create – and we believe that extending coverage will help businesses navigate around and through the [PPACA],” Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce Vice President of Government Affairs Matt Davis told the crowd.

President Obama’s 2010 health law has undergone radical changes since passage, with the IRS unilaterally granting itself the power to impose fines in states without state-run PPACA exchanges, the Obama Administration deciding eligibility for subsidies will be determined based on the honor system, and one of the law’s central mandates delayed from 2014 to 2015.

Gov. Kasich, the Ohio Hospital Association, and progressive activists have nonetheless sought to convince legislators the PPACA’s Medicaid expansion funding promises are too generous to pass up, rather than propose state-based solutions to the various problems they identify.

[Editor’s note, 07/16/2013: Corrected year in next-to-last paragraph from 2009 to 2010 – PPACA passed in the Senate at the end of 2009 but didn’t become law until months later.]

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