The Ohio Health Care Association, a predominately nursing home industry interest group, is presently running this television ad about Kasich’s Medicaid budget:

Yep.  An ad that begins with an image of John Kasich, a bunch of hospitalized elderly patients, and ends with a flatline as someone, literally, pulls the plug.

And Governor Kasich is pissed about it:

“The process of the nursing homes winning every battle and budget fight in the name of special interests must stop,” Kasich said to local elected officials and members of greater Cincinnati’s business community who assembled at Rhinestahl Corp. in Mason.

“It’s directed at the legislature so the nursing-home lobby can derail reform one more time,” Kasich said, later adding: “We’re not going to cave in to these special interests, and if they start winning, you’re going to hear what I have to say about it.”

Nursing-home interests gave more than $80,000 to Kasich during his successful 2010 campaign, according to data compiled by Ohio Citizen Action, a nonprofit watchdog group. [Source: Columbus Dispatch (May 10, 2011)]

First, everything in the ad is factually true.  While Kasich likes to talk about how his budget moves people out of expensive nursing homes and allows more seniors to live at home, his budget makes that claim laughable.  His budget, even after the House GOP “softened the edges” some still has a double digit percentage cut of funding in Passport, the main (if only) program that really keeps seniors in their homes.

As the Cincinnati Enquirer reported over the weekend, Kasich’s budget actually makes the providing of such services harder three ways:

  1. Kasich’s budget mandates that Passport must serve 15% more seniors than it currently does;
  2. It must do so with 15% less funding; and
  3. It also will pay providers of care and aid substantially less as well.

Here’s the House GOP caucus’ response to outraged service providers who believe politicians are promising something their budget can’t deliver:

“Obviously, we feel the program is vital to the elderly, and it’s a priority for the governor and the Senate as well, but as we all know, everyone is facing major budget cuts this year.”

Again, neither the Governor’s office, the State Senate, or the House of Representatives is facing major budget cuts this year.  In fact, the Senate and House face absolutely no cuts at all.

In response, a public interest group associated with the Ohio Association of Area Agencies on Aging (O4A) has launched a website, FairCareOhio.org, to lobby lawmakers in Columbus to oppose Kasich’s cuts to Passport.  Kasich’s budget, by design, is meant to cut funding for nursing homes with the goal of forcing them into Passport, but then Kasich underfunds Passport as well.

Meanwhile, back in Kasichstan, Kasich declares that next year, as the State’s revenues continue to recover from the Great Recession, he wants to use the growing revenues to pay for: a) restored funding for schools?; b) restored funding for Passport; or c) more tax cuts?

Yep, more tax cuts.  Kasich wants to use what is projected to be at least half a billion of the “Strickland surplus” to cut taxes, but Speaker Batchelder has indicated publicly that his caucus would desire using the money to restore cuts to education and Passport.  Yes, you read that right.  Governor Kasich is officially to the right of Speaker Batchelder, king of the caveman caucus, on education and Medicaid.

But doesn’t Governor Kasich’s rhetoric about the influence of nursing home dollars ring rather hollow given his absolutely silence on the last minute for-profit charter school power giveaway the House GOP caucus gave in the budget.  A giveaway with direct ties to one of the top campaign contributors to Ohio Republicans in general?

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