Monday, August 03, 2015

John Kasich Has a $14 Billion Obamacare Problem

By Jason Hart, Ohio Watchdog

Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s habit of telling voters “Ohio money” pays for his Obamacare Medicaid expansion is about to catch up to him.

To silence conservative critics, Kasich says Obamacare expansion is bringing $14 billion of Ohio money back to Ohio from the federal government.

But that’s not how the expansion works — a fact Kasich’s opponents in a crowded Republican presidential primary are certain to point out.

There is no vault of “Ohio money” set aside to pay for Kasich’s Obamacare expansion, which has already increased federal welfare spending by $4 billion.

Matt Mayer, president of free-market think tank Opportunity Ohio, expects the governor’s message to fall apart when it’s challenged by other presidential candidates.

In an email to Ohio Watchdog, Mayer said Kasich’s presidential platform relies on a misrepresentation of how Obamacare expansion is paid for.

“Kasich’s balanced state budget and false claim of ‘getting Ohio money back’ to extend Medicaid depend entirely on robbing the taxpayer Peters of tomorrow with federal deficit spending to pay the Obamacare Pauls of today,” Mayer said.

“Without the federal funny money that increases America’s national debt, John Kasich’s ‘Ohio miracle’ utterly collapses,” Mayer added.

Defending Obamacare expansion as a way to reclaim Ohio money from the feds has worked for Kasich so far, as his poll numbers have jumped following his official July 21 campaign announcement.

That’s likely to change in the near future, since Kasich is competing for attention with Obamacare expansion foes that include former Florida governor Jeb Bush and former Texas governor Rick Perry.

Where did Kasich get the idea his Obamacare expansion would be paid for with Ohio money and not new federal spending? He made it up.

In 2013, the Kasich administration told state legislators Medicaid expansion was necessary to “keep $2.4 billion in Ohioans’ federal tax dollars in Ohio ($13 billion over seven years).”

Health policy experts from inside and outside Ohio explained to lawmakers this was inaccurate. Even Obamacare expansion supporters conceded Kasich was wrong.

The governor’s office has never responded to requests for clarification from Ohio Watchdog; skeptics have since been vindicated by the Congressional Budget Office and Congressional Research Service.

And yet, Kasich has revised his $13 billion estimate to $14 billion and keeps repeating his debunked “Ohio money back to Ohio” claim.

“Look, you know, Ronald Reagan expanded Medicaid, I don’t know, three or four times, Wolf, and we’re bringing $14 billion over 7 years back to Ohio,” Kasich told CNN host Wolf Blitzer on July 28.

“I don’t support Obamacare — I wanna repeal it — but I did expand Medicaid because I was able to bring Ohio money back home,” Kasich told CNN’s Jake Tapper during a May interview.

When Tapper noted Medicaid expansion is part of Obamacare, Kasich only dug in deeper, suggesting Medicaid expansion was somehow dreamed up by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.

“Expanding Medicaid is a separate issue, and John Roberts gave all the states the ability to decide that, and I’m gonna bring 14 billion of Ohio money back to Ohio so we can deal with some of our vexing problems,” Kasich added.

Medicaid expansion “brought our money back to Ohio, 14 billion,” Kasich told Sean Hannity during a July 21 Fox News interview.

Regardless of his standing in the polls, Kasich’s embrace of Obamacare may be seriously challenged in front of a national audience for the first time Thursday.

Fox News will host a prime-time debate for the top 10 Republican candidates Thursday evening, preceded by a forum for candidates who aren’t polling in the top 10.


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