Ohio Gov. John Kasich spent several minutes of a Virginia campaign stop on Monday promoting Medicaid expansion.
Virginia is one of 19 states where lawmakers have rejected the funding the 2010 health insurance law promises for expanding Medicaid to working-age adults with no kids and no disabilities.
Democrat Gov. Terry McAuliffe supports Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, and has borrowed many of Kasich’s talking points to pressure Virginia legislators to enact it.
In his Monday speech, Kasich suggested — as he has in Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Montana — his fellow Republicans in the Old Dominion are fighting Obamacare because they are heartless politicians.
The Republican governor called Obamacare “bad medicine,” but he said the law’s Medicaid expansion gave him an opportunity to “bring 14 billion of our dollars home to deal with some serious problems.”
Kasich’s Obamacare expansion — paid for with new federal deficit spending — is on track to double his $14 billion cost estimate for 2014-20. Medicaid expansion is responsible for three-fourths of Ohio’s total Obamacare enrollment.
BACKGROUND: Gov. Kasich has a $14 billion Obamacare problem
Kasich framed Obamacare expansion as a program for the mentally ill, drug-addicted, and working poor, but it’s not targeted at any of those groups. Having income at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty line is the only requirement for Medicaid eligibility under Obamacare expansion.
Kasich noted, as he regularly does, that President Ronald Reagan expanded Medicaid; former Reagan chief of staff Ed Meese refuted Kasich’s insinuation that Reagan would support Obamacare in a 2013 National Review column.
Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor who suspended his presidential campaign after finishing fourth in South Carolina, began to sharply criticize Kasich’s embrace of Obamacare following Kasich’s second-place finish in the New Hampshire primary earlier this month.
Kasich, who came in fifth in South Carolina, alluded to Bush’s complaints while talking up Medicaid expansion in his Virginia stump speech.
“I knew I would take criticism. Did I care? Not really,” Kasich said, insisting mentally ill Ohioans are “living out their God-given purpose because of the resources we’ve been able to apply.”
“You know what I think? Our state grows, and as our state grows, we have an obligation — a responsibility as human beings all made in the image of the Lord — to help our fellow neighbors rise and be able to accomplish their purpose as well,” Kasich continued.
Kasich said on Feb. 3 that he doesn’t “go out and try to win a vote using God,” but he has persistently invoked God’s name to defend Obamacare expansion.
The governor has likewise been persistent in framing Obamacare expansion as a product of Ohio’s growing economy, part of his effort to convince voters the expansion isn’t paid for with new federal deficit spending.
BACKGROUND: Who’s paying for Kasich’s Medicaid expansion?
“But let me tell you this: if people want to attack me for that, great, because I wear it as a badge of honor in doing the right thing when everybody yells, ‘don’t do it, it’s bad politics,'” Kasich said. “We’ve had enough of politics in the United States of America. It’s time we had leadership and not politics.”
Back home in Ohio, Kasich’s Obamacare expansion is supported by the Ohio Hospital Association, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, and every major newspaper. Like Kasich himself, the Ohio Republican Party supports the expansion while claiming to be against the overall program.
When Kasich failed to lead the Ohio General Assembly to expand Medicaid in 2013, he vetoed a legislative ban on expansion, expanded Medicaid unilaterally, and threatened to bankrupt Ohio’s entire Medicaid program if a pseudo-legislative seven-member board didn’t appropriate Obamacare funding.
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