Since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on the Affordable Care Act (i.e., Obamacare), the Kasich Administration has sought to speak out against the President’s plan in a political maneuver aimed at painting the health care reform in a negative light and trying to damage President Obama’s re-election campaign.  Much like the politics surrounding Ohio’s jobs numbers (Kasich doesn’t want to share credit with the President when numbers go up and only wants to point fingers when they drop), the Medicaid changes are in the process of being enacted and have been for over two years, despite Kasich’s and Lt. Gov. Taylor’s protests to the contrary.

But if Kasich were to reveal the truth about Ohio’s plans, he wouldn’t be able to cast blame on the Democratic President’s plan, nor would he be able to take (faux) credit next year when Ohio’s Medicaid expansion is implemented.  Instead, expect John Kasich to take on the role of fiscal savior when Ohio is miraculously able to pull this off next year (it’s not a miracle; more on that below).

For starters, here is a chart that the Governor’s Office put together and pushed out via Kasich’s Twitter account:

I won’t belabor the point, but essentially Kasich is trying to scare us by implying that Obamacare (note the blame laid on President Obama) will now cost Ohio an unanticipated and un-budgeted $940 million dollars.

Maybe that figure is true, though it should have been neither unanticipated nor un-budgeted.

It shouldn’t have been left out of Ohio’s budget because, as the chart clearly states, these are people who are currently eligible for Medicaid and have not signed up for it.  These people are likely uninsured or under-insured and are obtaining healthcare through more expensive methods and at more than twice the cost of insured Ohioans.  Further, these individuals could all hypothetically sign up tomorrow and be entitled to receive Medicaid coverage at this same cost to Ohio — REGARDLESS of the existence of Obamacare.

In fact, Kasich essentially bragged about fixing the Medicaid budget in his 2011 budget, HB153, where he “achieves an unprecedented level of Medicaid savings ($1.4 billion)” over the next two years:

If Kasich reportedly saved $1.4 billion, while Obamacare will only cost $940 million, then the budget should be just fine unless Kasich spent that money on something else or didn’t actually “save” it in the first place, right?

Either way, Kasich’s document clearly points out that the Administration anticipated the adoption of the Affordable Care Act as shown in the sentence preceding the Balance the Budget section of the report:

So again, the adoption of the Affordable Care Act has been known about for years, and despite Kasich’s recent political gamesmanship, Ohio appears to be on track to implement the required changes.

In fact, Ohio has an entire Office of Health Transformation that has a website chock-full of press releases and information about Ohio’s progress toward the reform of Medicaid.

On March 14, 2012, the office released a concept paper on “How to Modernize Medicaid Eligibility in the State of Ohio” which includes an interesting identification of the Medicaid problem in Ohio:

Ohio’s eligibility processes for health and human services are fragmented, overly complex, and rely on outdated technology. The current system does not have the capacity to process the nearly one million Ohioans who will be newly eligible for Medicaid in 2014 as a result of federal health care reform. The Governor’s Office of Health Transformation (OHT) initiated an eligibility modernization project to simplify client eligibility based on income, streamline state and local responsibility for eligibility determination, and update eligibility systems technology. The goal is to improve the consumer experience and significantly reduce the costs associated with eligibility processes.

Are we still to believe the Kasich Administration hasn’t been continually working to implement the requirements of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act?

Finally, don’t think we’re suggesting that John Kasich deserves any credit for apparently having the foresight or desire to enact these changes.  The Governor doesn’t appear to be impeding this work now that the writing is on the wall, but Ohio would definitely be further along on this work if the Governor was promoting its existence.  Instead, Governor Kasich is stuck between the President running for election who is credited with the Affordable Care Act, and his own predecessor, the man in office when the process of Modernizing Ohio’s Public Benefits, including Medicaid eligibility, began — Ted Strickland.

That’s right.  When Kasich stands up next year and demands accolades for “fixing the Medicaid problem” that has allegedly been caused by President Obama, the man who deserves the credit is former Governor Ted Strickland, under whom the Medicaid Modernization process began back in 2010.

So let me be the first to say…Thanks, Ted.