Kasich: No Regrets Over Medicaid Expansion

Kerry Picket Political Reporter
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MANCHESTER, N.H. — A question that follows Ohio Republican Governor John Kasich is why he went around his own Republican state legislature over two years ago and expanded the Buckeye state’s Medicaid program under President Obama’s health care act.

Ohio Republicans first recoiled at Kasich’s measure to expand the program in his state’s budget in the spring of 2013. It was gutted from the budget. Kasich decided to get the funding in January of 2014 by getting approval from the Obama administration on Ohio’s Medicaid expansion program, MSNBC first reported. Kasich then requested his legislature’s controlling board to allow the use of $2.5 billion in available federal funds.

A 5-2 vote in favor of allowing the transfer of federal funds to the state’s Medicaid account occurred and Ohio was left with some terribly irritated Republican legislators.

The left celebrated Kasich’s end run around his party at the time. “This is great news for the 270,000 previously uninsured residents, the state’s health care providers, and [the] Ohio economy, [which] will benefit from this expansion,” Obama aide and Ohio native Chris Jennings wrote in a blog post on the White House website.

Regardless of what could be described as a delayed kiss of death from the Obama administration over two years ago, Kasich does not regret his decision. Although the Ohio Republican governor is expected to declare a run for the presidency, Kasich still celebrates his decision to counter his party on one of its biggest platform issues.

“Right here in this town — in this state there have been a number of drug overdose deaths — 321 is my understanding. And I use the money that we bring back from Washington and Ohio to treat the drug addicted,” he told The Daily Caller after walking out of a café on the main strip in Manchester.

He went on, “And we are also treating in the prisons. So we now have the resources to treat them and we treat them in the prisons and we hand them off to the community our recidivism rate–the return rate of those people to prison is 10 percent. The national return rate is almost 50 percent. So we use these resources, so that we can help people get rehab and unfortunately it isn’t always easy.”

He later said, “We use those dollars to treat the mentally ill as well. And I don’t know a better way to do it then to have the resources to make sure we realize everyone is made in the image of the Lord, and everybody should be able to live out their God-given purpose so I’m pleased by what we’ve done.”

However, a Supreme Court decision could determine the fate of the Affordable Care Act any day now and Ohio’s federal exchange is likely to be affected if the court rules against the administration. As of now, only Delaware and Pennsylvania were “conditionally approved” by Health and Human Services secretary Sylvia Burwell to set up their own health exchange market places if the high court rules against Obama’s HHS.