Ohio Gov. John Kasich has lots of bad ideas for governing, as Plunderbund readers know all too well. One of his worst to date is to ask the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to approval a change in Ohio’s popular expansion of Medicaid that would force about one million eligible Ohioans to pay premiums for coverage they currently receive free of charge.
Ohio’s lame duck governor made his second run for president this year, losing 49 state contests and winning only one, Ohio, and with less than 50 percent of the vote. In many town hall meetings along the losing way, John Kasich liked to talk about hopes and hugs and inspiration, but wasn’t eager to talk about his cold plans for Social Security or Medicare.
The only Democrat holding a statewide seat, Ohio’ senior senator in Washington, Sherrod Brown, is speaking out against Gov. Kasich’s proposal to increase health care costs for hundreds of thousands of Ohioans. Sen. Brown took the lead in a letter to Democrats in the Ohio delegation to urge opposition to Kasich Administration changes to Ohio’s Medicaid expansion to require non-disabled adults, including some pregnant women, to pay for their coverage.
“Out of pocket costs should never prevent Ohioans from seeking care for themselves or their child – especially individuals who rely on Medicaid,” Sen. Brown said in prepared remarks. “But that’s exactly what Ohio’s proposal would do – force thousands of parents, foster youth, and caretakers to pay more for care.” Sen. Brown said Kasich’s plan can’t be approved. “That’s why I’m asking Ohioans to join me and share stories of how this plan could hurt their families.”
For background, recall that in 2013 Gov. Kasich expanded Ohio’s Medicaid program through the Affordable Care Act, which provided health coverage for more than 670,000 Ohioans, many for the first time. But Kasich and a super friendly Republican-led legislature coordinated to insert into the state’s 2016-2017 budget bill language that requires the Ohio Department of Medicaid to apply to the federal government for permission to change, or “waive,” the way the program is currently run.
In another demonstration of how John Kasich’s mind works when it comes to other people being responsible, his new proposal would require nearly all non-disabled adults, including some pregnant women, on Medicaid who currently qualify for the program to pay premiums to maintain coverage and would impose caps on yearly and lifetime expenses. Additionally, the proposal includes additional co-payments and cost-sharing requirements. John Kasich has been a master of saying one thing and doing another. His plan is the latest evidence that he says he feels your pain, but when it comes to administering real medicine, he always has a bitter pill to make the medicine go down harder.
In Sen. Brown’s letter to Sylvia Mathews Burwell at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, he writes, “As elected federal representatives from Ohio, we have a vested interest in protecting the health and wellbeing of all Ohioans, and that is why we are concerned that the health and wellbeing of our constituents is currently threatened by the state’s proposal to revise its Medicaid expansion program. We strongly oppose the ‘Healthy Ohio Program,’ which seeks to make needless, injurious changes to Ohio’s existing, successful Medicaid expansion program, and urge you to reject the state’s proposal in its entirety.”
Ms. Burwell has the authority to approve demonstration projects that “promote the objectives of the Medicaid and CHIP programs.” Sen. Brown said that, based on federal program criteria, the “Healthy Ohio Program” as submitted to CMS would meet none of these general criteria. “Therefore, we urge you to reject the state’s proposal.”
Able to bringing his own snark when necessary, Sen. Brown, who was among the list of potential picks for vice president by Hillary Clinton, joked that Kasich’s program should better be called the “UNhealthy Ohio Program.” The changes advanced in the state’s waiver application, he said in the letter, “would disrupt coverage and increase costs for the more than one million adult Ohioans who are currently enrolled through the program – going beyond the state’s expansion population and affecting other vulnerable individuals who rely on Medicaid, including foster youth, low-income 19- and 20-year-olds, low-income parents and caretaker relatives, and individuals eligible for the Breast and Cervical Cancer project.”
Sen. Brown can’t say it enough, Medicaid expansion in Ohio is working, thanks to an expansion that covers more than 670,000 Ohioans. Ever the wonk on program details, the twice-elected senator said covered Ohioans has lead to increased care coordination, decreased uncompensated care, and an increase of mental health and addiction services. Accordingly, then, approving the “Healthy Ohio Program’s” proposal brings “detrimental changes to the current, successful program [and] will not increase coverage, stabilize providers, improve health outcomes, or increase efficiency.”
Going back in time, as John Kasich, Donald Trump and virtually all Republicans want to do, isn’t what Ohio’s senior senator wants and Medicaid-eligible people need. “We cannot afford to go backward by approving a policy change that will cause hundreds of thousands of Ohioans to lose coverage,” he said Thursday in a media release.
Gov. Kasich touts his budget balancing skills in Ohio and in Washington, but the important issue is not balancing a budget but how it’s balanced. On that score, John Kasich should be embarrassed by what he’s done in Ohio, as local governments and schools will gladly attest to. Sen. Brown isn’t okay with Kasich expanding coverage to “walk it back for populations who need it most.”
He’s said and done the same thing with Social Security, first agreeing the the deal Reagan cut with Democrats in 1983 to improve it and now telling people to “get over it” when it comes to his fix, work longer and get less when you retire. John Kasich has made many millions, maybe as much as $22 million if his campaign filings are accurate, in politics. He’s feathere his nest well. Why haven’t you?