Perhaps it’s because he will be leaving office in December, but Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, is taking positions on major issues that’s putting him on a collision course with members of his party.
One such issue has to do with an extremely important aspect of the Affordable Care Act.
Kasich, a failed candidate for the GOP nomination for president in 2016, grabbed national headlines recently when he joined a bipartisan group of governors in opposing changes in national health-care policy for individuals with pre-existing conditions.
“Everyone in this country deserves access to affordable, quality health insurance,” according to a statement issued by nine governors, including Democrat Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania. “The [Trump] Administration’s disappointing decision to no longer defend this provision of federal law threatens health care coverage for many in our states with pre-existing conditions and adds uncertainty and higher costs for Americans who purchase their own health insurance.”
The group asked the administration of Republican President Donald J. Trump to reverse its decision and, instead work with Congress and governors on bipartisan solutions.
Twenty Republican state attorneys general filed the lawsuit to eliminate the pre-existing condition portion of the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”).
The U.S. Justice Department filed a brief in the case saying it would no longer defend the pre-existing condition portion of the ACA.
According to Cleveland.com (the Cleveland Plain Dealer), DeWine, Ohio’s attorney general and the Republican nominee for governor in the November general election, did not join or intervene in the lawsuit.
A spokesman said Ohio’s top lawyer supports health insurance access for individuals with pre-existing conditions.
If that’s so, DeWine should publicly embrace the position taken by Gov. Kasich and the eight other governors in opposition to the lawsuit filed by the attorneys general and the Justice Department’s brief.
It is interesting that U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told senators that Trump supports accessible health insurance for individuals with pre-existing conditions.
However, the president continues to insist that “Obamacare” must be repealed and replaced. That position became one of the defining issues of his 2016 presidential campaign.
By contrast, Gov. Kasich has long argued that Obamacare should be fixed, not repealed.
“You can have a debate all day long about single payer or whatever you want to debate but everyone is in agreement, if you’ve got a pre-existing condition you should not be denied access to health care,” Kasich said last week.
KASICH NOT GRANDSTANDING
Lest anyone think that the governor is indulging in political grandstanding, consider this: Over the objection of the Republican controlled General Assembly, Kasich expanded the state’s Medicaid program to include individuals earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level.
As a result of his action, an additional 700,000-plus Ohioans have signed up for Medicaid, the joint state-federal health insurance program for poor and disabled people.
Any attempt to dismantle the Medicaid expansion will jeopardize the health care of hundreds of thousands of Ohioans.
It is noteworthy, within the context of the November general election, that the Democratic nominee for governor, Richard Cordray, who served as the first director of the Consumer Protection Financial Bureau, is unwavering in his support of the Republican governor on the issue of Medicaid, in particular, and the Affordable Care Act, in general.
DeWine, on the other hand, has shied away from embracing Medicaid expansion.
He continues to argue, as he did during the Republican primary for governor, the state of Ohio will not be able to financially sustain the expansion, even though the federal government is picking up 90 percent of the cost.
DeWine has said he would come up with an alternative to the expansion, but has not provided any details of his plan.
Kasich is understandably concerned about DeWine’s refusal to totally commit to the Medicaid expansion because “you would be yanking the rug out from other people,” if it were dismantled.
“They’ve got nowhere else to go,” the governor said about the hundreds of thousands of Ohioans, many of whom are considered the working poor.
It is revealing that 138 percent of poverty – the level at which Ohioans qualify for Medicaid coverage – translates to $28,676 a year for household of three. That’s why they cannot afford to pay for health insurance.
All Americans should have access to high quality, affordable health care, which is why Gov. Kasich is to be commended for expanding the Medicaid program.