Ohio Gov. John Kasich on Friday urged Florida and South Carolina to expand Medicaid under the 2010 health law, while the Sunshine State’s former governor and fellow Republican presidential aspirant slammed him for doing that in his home state.
On the campaign trail, Kasich frequently faces questions about his embrace of Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion. This week he has drawn fire from Jeb Bush over the policy.
During a Friday morning Fox News interview, Kasich criticized Obamacare expansion opponents in Florida, one of 19 states whose lawmakers have refused new federal funding to put working-age adults with no kids and no disabilities on Medicaid.
“Frankly, I don’t think it makes sense to not offer care to the mentally ill so they live under a bridge or in a prison — which costs a lot of money — or to the drug-addicted, who are in a revolving door in and out of the prisons, or to the working poor who spend their time in and out of emergency rooms,” Kasich said.
Obamacare’s expansion of Medicaid is not targeted at the drug-addicted, the mentally ill, or the working poor. Eligibility is based on income alone, and the program has no work requirements.
“I believe the governor of Florida, Rick Scott, has wanted this and they haven’t been able to get it done,” Kasich added. Scott, a fellow Republican, has opposed Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion since last spring.
Kasich also repeated his oft-stated boast that he restrained Medicaid growth to 2.5 percent in his second budget; he never mentions that Obamacare expansion was separate from his second budget because the Ohio General Assembly voted against it.
Kasich’s Obamacare expansion has cost $6.4 billion in two years, and is a major driver of the 33 percent increase in Ohio Medicaid spending Kasich presided over during his first term. But Kasich talked up the policy again Friday at a South Carolina town hall.
NBC reporter Kailani Koenig shared some of Kasich’s comments in reply to a question about his Obamacare expansion.
“All the people who understood the implications of it were all for it,” Kasich said before suggesting Obamacare expansion critics don’t care about the drug-addicted, mentally ill, and working poor.
Kasich continues: If people don’t want to do this, what is it they want to do with the mentally ill, the drug addicted, and working poor?
— Kailani Koenig (@kailanikm) February 12, 2016
Like the legislators in Florida, South Carolina lawmakers have refused to expand Medicaid under Obamacare despite years of similar rhetoric from Democrats, hospital lobbyists and the press.
Kasich insinuates Obamacare expansion is the only way to help drug addicts, the mentally ill, and the working poor, but conservatives in the Ohio House offered a package of alternative proposals in 2013.
Kasich refused to consider state-level reforms that were designed to save money that would be used to help the same people Kasich credits the Obamacare expansion with serving.
When Ohio legislators passed a ban on Obamacare expansion, Kasich vetoed the measure, expanded Medicaid eligibility unilaterally, and threatened to bankrupt the whole Ohio Medicaid program if Obamacare funding was not approved.
Kasich claims Obamacare expansion lets him “bring Ohio money back home,” but the expansion — which is on track to double Kasich’s cost projections by 2020 — is paid for with new federal spending.
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