By Jason Hart | Ohio Watchdog
Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s combination presidential campaign and Obamacare promo tour stopped this week in North Carolina.
A local TV host asked Kasich — one of few Republicans to embrace Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion — what he would say to North Carolina lawmakers “adamantly against” expanding Medicaid.
“We’ve taken $14 billion over the next seven years back to our state, of Ohio money that we sent to Washington,” Kasich replied Monday before defending the program’s benefits for drug addicts, the mentally ill and the working poor.
Obamacare promises an open-ended stream of new federal Medicaid funding; there’s no pool of Ohio or California or North Carolina money for states to dip into. Every state expanding Medicaid increases the total cost.
Kasich’s attempt to obscure the facts didn’t surprise Mitch Kokai, communications director for North Carolina’s free-market John Locke Foundation.
Kasich, Kokai said, hasn’t simply tried to justify his decision to expand Medicaid but has “doubled down on it and said others should do the same.”
Kasich’s Obamacare expansion cost $3.7 billion in its first 17 months and is already $1 billion over budget. Enrollment is much higher than projected, and so are costs per enrollee.
Kokai said it made sense for Time Warner Cable News Central NC to bring up Medicaid expansion while talking to Kasich about a potential presidential run, given Obamacare’s continued importance to voters.
“Someone seeking the Republican nomination who has actually taken an active role in supporting and implementing a major piece of the Affordable Care Act — that does set Governor Kasich apart,” Kokai explained.
North Carolina is one of 21 states in which Republican lawmakers have refused to put able-bodied, childless adults on Medicaid under Obamacare.
Montana expanded Medicaid this spring after Kasich attacked Montana Republicans for their opposition. Kasich promoted Medicaid expansion in May campaign stops in South Carolina and Georgia.
In North Carolina, Kokai expects the impact of Kasich’s Obamacare promotion “is likely to be very limited.”
Regarding Kasich’s claims about Medicaid expansion funding, Kokai said, “I don’t think anyone who’s been following the debate here in North Carolina is going to buy that argument.”
Later in his interview with Time Warner Cable News Central NC, Kasich used his unflinching support for Medicaid expansion to cultivate his straight-shooter image.
“I travel all over the country, I talk to every crowd, I never change any of my positions,” Kasich said. “I find that people understand why we need to help the mentally ill, the drug-addicted and the working poor.”
Kasich — who insists Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion has nothing to do with Obamacare — expressed confidence in talking points refuted by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office and Congressional Research Service.
“I don’t find a lot of opposition once I get in the room and tell them what I’m doing,” Kasich added.
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