Ohio

Gov. Kasich’s Obamacare Talking Points Trainwreck

Policy John Kasich
Ohio Governor John Kasich (R)

Governor John Kasich, who warned in 2010 that Obamacare would “require more Medicaid spending and stick states with large and unsustainable costs,” has been trying to stick Ohio with those costs for six months. If he has compelling reasons for doing so, he has not shared them.

A 2012 U.S. Supreme Court decision gave states the freedom to opt out of expanding Medicaid to able-bodied childless adults, but Kasich has sided with hospital lobbyists and progressive activists in pursuit of a policy he campaigned against.

How did John Kasich, a Republican known for his fiscal conservatism, decide to support a key piece of Obamacare?

“It’s a complicated issue,” Gov. Kasich told reporters when Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel came out against the Obamacare Medicaid expansion in February.

It’s not as complicated as Kasich would have Ohioans believe. Fortunately for the governor, he has faced no difficult questions from a Statehouse press corps happy to herald billions per year in new entitlement spending.

A January 15 Health Policy Institute of Ohio (HPIO) study estimated Ohio’s economy would benefit from a vast expansion of Medicaid. Ever since, HPIO’s findings have been trumpeted by the Kasich Administration and the press – though free market think tanks Opportunity Ohio and The Buckeye Institute had both pointed out major flaws in the study by the end of January.

With extensive use of his bully pulpit, Gov. Kasich has built arguments for the Obamacare Medicaid expansion around a few simple themes, and has framed as a heartless ideologue anyone who disagrees. He has even bizarrely claimed Obamacare is not Obamacare.

Kasich Talking Point: Obamacare Medicaid expansion will make poor Ohioans healthier

Governor Kasich and other Obamacare advocates insist expanding Medicaid will help Ohio’s poor by providing them access to better health care. This claim is typically made as a blanket assertion that “Medicaid coverage” means “quality health care,” with no supporting evidence save assurances from Kasich that God wants the General Assembly to spend more taxpayer money.

The truth?

The Obamacare Medicaid expansion would push hundreds of thousands of able-bodied childless adults under the age of 65 into a government program whose results are already mixed at best.

Kasich Talking Point: Obamacare Medicaid expansion will help Ohio hospitals and boost Ohio’s economy

The Kasich Administration and hospital lobbyists paint a picture of two future Ohios. In one Ohio, the state adopts the Obamacare Medicaid expansion and billions of job-creating federal dollars rain down from the sky; in the other, the state’s failure to expand Medicaid stifles the economy and sends hospitals around the state into bankruptcy.

How do these portrayals compare to reality?

Kasich Talking Point: ”Ohio’s” Obamacare funding will be spent elsewhere if Ohio rejects Medicaid expansion

From the day he introduced his budget plan for fiscal years 2014-2015, Gov. Kasich has been arguing that implementing the Obamacare Medicaid expansion would prevent “leaving Ohioans’ federal tax dollars on the table,” (02/04/2013 budget summary) and stop DC from taking “$13 billion of Ohioans’ federal tax dollars out of our state” (02/06/2013 RedState post).

This is an utterly false line of argument that Ohio news reporters have nonetheless repeated time and again without question.