Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich, governing under the influence of hospital lobbyists, has been aggressively campaigning for the expansion of Medicaid. But facing opposition from conservative groups and the Republican-controlled legislature, he’s now trying to argue that his support for one of the major provisions of President Obama’s health care law has nothing to do with Obamacare.
“Medicaid expansion is no different than the current Medicaid program, and to try to tie Medicaid to Obamacare, I don’t see the connection,” Kasich told the Columbus Dispatch last week, in an article flagged by Jason Hart of Media Trackers.
Back on planet Earth, the Medicaid expansion is one of the key ways in which Obamacare aims to make Americans dependent on government for their health insurance — and it accounts for $710 billion of Obamacare’s spending over the next decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Were all states to follow Kasich’s lead and support the expansion of Medicaid, the cost of the expansion would exceed $1 trillion, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
As a former U.S. House Budget Committee chairman, Kasich no doubt understands this. So his claim should be viewed as disingenuous rather than ignorant.
Hospitals are eager to have access to billions in new Medicaid money, especially because the health care law also decreases Medicare payments. Earlier this year, the chief lobbyist for the Cleveland Clinic told me that the hospital had been aggressively lobbying the Kasich administration to expand Medicaid, and that it was working with Kasich to convince the GOP legislature to get behind it.
Up for reelection next year, Kasich needs the energetic support of the Republican base, which hates Obamacare. So he’s trying to argue that his passionate advocacy for one of the most expensive provisions of Obamacare has nothing to do with Obamacare. Buckeye conservatives know better.