By Jason Hart | Ohio Watchdog
Ohio’s roaring economy is covering the cost of nearly 500,000 new Medicaid recipients, according to Gov. John Kasich.
The Republican governor’s Obamacare Medicaid expansion message has gotten national attention, and other governors have borrowed it, but Kasich’s rhetoric is at odds with reality.
Preliminary numbers peg employment in Ohio at 5,329,200 in November, still 124,700 jobs short of a March 2006 pre-recession peak and 307,000 below the state’s all-time high in May 2000.
How do nearly four years of job gains under Kasich compare to the first 11 months of Obamacare Medicaid expansion enrollment? Ohio has gained 267,700 jobs since Jan. 2011, and has added 450,941 Ohioans to Medicaid under Obamacare this year.
Ohio’s job creation rate since Kasich took office ranks in the bottom half of the 50 states, even though Ohio’s loss of 455,000 jobs from March 2006 to February 2010 was among the nation’s worst.
From January 2011 to September 2014, Ohio had the 27th-highest rate of job growth, behind neighbor Indiana at 20th and neighbor Michigan at 22nd. For the first three quarters of 2014, Ohio’s job creation rate ranked 44th nationally based on U.S. Department of Labor data.
“When I look at economic development, whether it’s tax cuts or deregulation or whatever, economic growth is not an end unto itself,” Kasich told George Stephanopoulos said during a Dec. 7 ABC News interview.
“Economic growth is terrific, but it should lead to helping people who live in the shadows — and that’s exactly what we’ve done in Ohio. So we help the drug-addicted, we help the mentally ill, we help the working poor.”
“Now, on Medicaid expansion, I’m able to bring Ohio money back to Ohio — cause I know what they do with it in Washington — and I can use it to treat the mentally ill, I can use it to help the drug-addicted,” Kasich added. “Why wouldn’t I do that, George? That’s common sense to me.”
Describing his expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare as a decision “to bring Ohio money back to Ohio” is something Kasich has frequently done.
“I have a chance to bring back $14 billion in Ohio dollars back to Ohio to do what? To strengthen our local communities as they treat the most significant problem of drug addiction, and the problem of mental illness,” Kasich told Chris Wallace during a Fox News interview in March.
According to Kasich, Ohio is morally obligated to expand Medicaid using the “Ohio dollars” he chose to “bring back” because the state economy is doing well, and this has nothing to do with Obamacare.
“My philosophy is this, Chris: As the state does better and gets stronger economically, we must help people who live in the shadows,” Kasich told Wallace.
“It’s a two-prong strategy: Continue to grow the state, continue to make it stronger and stronger economically, and help to lift people outta the ditch where they are, bring them into the mainstream and give them an opportunity to realize their God-given purpose.”
Ohio’s economic performance since 2011 is middling, and the governor’s claims about how Medicaid expansion is paid for are false, according to projections from the left-leaning Urban Institute.
First, Obamacare includes an open-ended promise of new federal funding for every state expanding Medicaid. Kasich’s Obamacare expansion does not “bring back” a single “Ohio dollar” — it increases the burden of deficit spending on all U.S. taxpayers, including Ohioans.
Second, Kasich’s oft-repeated $14 billion figure is his estimate of the federal money Ohio would receive through 2020 by expanding Medicaid under Obamacare. While Ohioans pay for a portion of all federal spending, that portion is far less than 100 percent.
A 2012 report from the left-leaning Kaiser Family Foundation based on Urban Institute data estimated Medicaid spending would increase by $808 billion through 2022 if every state implemented the Obamacare expansion.
Urban Institute estimated Ohio’s implementation of the Obamacare expansion would cost federal taxpayers $53.3 billion and state taxpayers $4 billion through 2022.
However incompatible the truth may be with Kasich’s talking points, Kasich seems dedicated to portraying billions in new entitlement spending as proof of his fiscal responsibility.
“It’s ironic that Governor Kasich is spearheading a Balanced Budget Amendment as he eagerly accepts Medicaid expansion money that comes from federal deficit spending,” Matt Mayer, president of free market think tank Opportunity Ohio, told Ohio Watchdog via email.
“Should he succeed and other governors expand Medicaid, Ohioans will be forced to pay significantly higher federal and state taxes to cover the exploding Medicaid rolls.”
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