Representative Pat Tiberi has claimed he is “the most accessible Congressman” Ohio’s 12th district has ever had. Meanwhile he has been working very hard to avoid town halls and other public events where he might be confronted about his position on the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – aka Obamacare.
Monday’s interaction between Tiberi and a small group of Ohio voters did very little to support his declarations of accessibility.
Around 6PM on March 14th, Rep. Tiberi was greeted by constituents when he arrived at a fundraiser in Worthington, Ohio. After a few seconds of questioning about when he would hold a town hall, Tiberi realized he was being filmed and quickly ducked into the private event. To his credit he did send out Rob Nichols, his deputy chief of staff, to answer questions. (Videos of both interactions are included below)
The first question to Nichols, Ohio Governor John Kasich’s former spokesman, was about the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report released Monday that indicated tens of millions of Americans would lose insurance coverage if the ACA is repealed and replaced with the plan Paul Ryan, Tiberi and other Republican members of Congress are supporting.
Nichols’ short answer: we haven’t had time to look at the numbers yet.
Question number two: How does the congressman feel about the fact that Ohio could lose $26 billion in federal funding if the ACA is repealed?
Nichols’ short answer: umm… which report was that?
Nichols’ deflections were summed up pretty clearly by a question from the crowd: “When are we going to get a clear answer?” After interacting with the crowd for 10 minutes, he never followed through on that request.
One of the most telling responses from Tiberi’s chief of staff came when asked if the congressman agrees with Ohio Governor John Kasich that the ACA Medicaid expansion should be maintained.
(Some quick background: over 700,000 Ohioans have health insurance right now because of the ACA Medicaid expansion adopted by Kasich. Over 43 percent of them are employed, over 55 percent are men and over 71 percent are white.)
Nichols was quick to respond to the Medicaid expansion question: “The congressman supported the governor’s position to expand [Medicaid] in Ohio” but he and Kasich are “coming at it from different angles” on the repeal because Tiberi “controls the federal purse strings.”
The “purse strings” and “different angles” stuff seems pretty genuine. And by genuine I mean politely saying: Pat absolutely does not support giving low income folks health care coverage.
But the first part of Nichols’ answer was completely untrue. Tiberi was actually a huge opponent of the Medicaid expansion in Ohio. According to a Dispatch article from July 2012 aptly titled “Tiberi says Ohio should not expand Medicaid”…
“We’re just adding all these people to Medicaid without fixing it,” Tiberi said of President Barack Obama’s health-care law yesterday during a meeting with the Dispatch editorial board…
“Why would you want to, as a governor, go into a scenario where Medicaid is already causing you headaches in terms of how to fund it?” he asked. “It’s a fiscal train wreck.”
And here is the video of Pat Tiberi hiding from local voters: