By Jason Hart | Watchdog.org
Ohio Gov. John Kasich on Wednesday accused Montana lawmakers of letting poor Montanans die by rejecting Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion.
Kasich’s meeting with state legislators in Helena marked the second Balanced Budget Forever event in as many days where the Republican governor promoted Medicaid expansion and bashed its critics.
Asked about Obamacare after he gave a speech bemoaning out-of-control federal debt, Kasich defended his decision to take billions in new federal spending to extend Medicaid coverage to working-age, able-bodied adults with no dependent children.
“Well, I mean first of all, we have an opportunity to bring our money back from Washington to Ohio,” Kasich said. “Secondly, we have a lot of demands as you have in every state across the country for the mentally ill, the drug-addicted, the working poor, and we feel an obligation to help people get themselves out of a bad situation.”
“And in addition to that, the expansion of Medicaid is not something that’s unusual. Ronald Reagan himself expanded Medicaid,” Kasich continued.
Although Kasich asserts his Obamacare expansion is funded entirely with Ohio money, the expansion is projected to cost federal taxpayers more than $50 billion in its first decade.
“You take somebody who, we have a big chunk of people that sit in our prisons right now, in our jails with mental illness. That’s not where they should be. By getting them a coordinated care treatment, we can not only help them get on their feet, but become productive citizens. And I think that’s what the Lord wants,” Kasich said.
The Ohio Department of Medicaid has estimated “about half” of those eligible under Kasich’s Obamacare expansion are employed.
“So, what I said to the federal government is, ‘If you change the rules on me, then I have the right to withdraw from the program,'” Kasich told his Montana audience. “But in the meantime as we are trying to figure all these things out, I’m not going to be an ideologue here and say to people, ‘Sorry, the door is closed and if you’ve got these problems of addictions or mental illness and you’re trying to work your way up and you’re poor, ya know, we’re not going to help you.'”
“I don’t think that’s right, and I don’t think it’s a conservative proposition,” Kasich concluded.
Kasich became visibly annoyed when his Obamacare expansion position was challenged again at a press conference during his Wednesday visit to Helena.
“John Roberts gave me an opportunity in the Supreme Court for the state to make a decision as to whether they want to reclaim this money or not,” Kasich told state legislators, repeating a line he used in Pierre, S.D., the day before. “There’s no money in Washington, it’s my money, okay? And so, I brought my money back to Ohio.”
As noted above, Kasich’s Obamacare expansion is expected to cost federal taxpayers over $50 billion in new spending through 2022. The only involvement Chief Justice John Roberts and the Supreme Court had in Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion was in empowering states to opt out.
“Now, I don’t know whether you ever read Matthew 25, but I commend it to you, the end of it, about do you feed the homeless and do you clothe the poor,” Kasich continued. “I’m a believer that it is in the conservative tradition to make sure that we help people get on their feet so they, then, are not dependent.”
“Now, I gotta tell ya, turning down your money back to Montana on an ideological basis when people can lose their lives because they get no help doesn’t make a lot of sense to me,” Kasich said. Within hours, Democrat Montana Gov. Steve Bullock was using this quote to pressure Republicans into supporting Obamacare.
“Government is here to be as a last resort, not as a first resort,” Kasich added. “So I read in The Wall Street Journal on Saturday about a doctor in Montana who’s treating all these people who are sneakin’ in there who aren’t getting very good health care, and about a guy who froze to death. And I read that and I thought, you know, we gotta help those people.”
Kasich’s press secretary did not respond to a Watchdog.org request for comment on the governor’s insinuation Obamacare opponents in Montana are ideologues who don’t care about the poor.
After stopping in South Dakota on Tuesday and in Montana on Wednesday, Kasich’s Balanced Budget Forever trip is also taking him to Obamacare expansion holdouts Idaho, Wyoming and Utah this week.
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