Ohio Republican governor candidates Mary Taylor and Jim Renacci ran their respective campaign buses over the health care of 700,000 Ohioans struggling in poverty this week.

In their attempts to woo the “we like to make ourselves feel better by hating poor people” crowd, Taylor and Renacci jostled for worst position on Medicaid.

On Monday, Lt. Gov. Taylor came out against Medicaid expansion in Ohio – the very thing Ohio Gov. John Kasich has been hanging his national hat on for several years now. The Kasich Administration has argued strenuously against a freeze, noting that 500,000 Ohioans could lose coverage under a freeze within the first 18 months. Over 700,000 low-income Ohioans have gained medical coverage through expansion.

Taylor doesn’t seem to care.

From the Columbus Dispatch:

When she was state insurance director, Taylor periodically suggested the expansion is financially unsustainable. Now, as a Republican candidate for governor, Taylor formally pulled the trigger: She would freeze enrollment in the expansion of health-coare coverage to more than 700,000 low-income Ohioans, leading to the program’s eventual demise.

She went on to point to predicted rising premiums next year – which are largely due to the Trump Administration’s sabotage of Obamacare – and to promote what she called “a consumer-driven, market-based approach,” which is Republican-speak for, “Private profits are our priority, people be damned.”

With Ohio leading the country right now in opiate overdose deaths, the Cincinnati Enquirer noted that Taylor’s position would devastate key resources in fighting that epidemic.

Instead of Medicaid, Taylor proposed that lower-income Ohioans would pay a monthly fee to doctors for preventative care and purchase insurance for bigger expenses such as hospital visits.

But what about the growing number of overdose deaths? Kasich has touted Medicaid as a key response to state’s opioid epidemic. Even Democrats who say Ohio needs more money for that fight have lauded Kasich’s choice on Medicaid.

“Helping more people get healthy, get clean and get jobs is really a no-brainer for Ohioans in need, employers and taxpayers,” Kasich’s spokesman Jon Keeling said after Taylor’s announcement.

But Taylor, who recently revealed her sons have struggled with addiction, says the monthly fee would work for treatment of mental health and addiction problems, too. She also proposed health savings accounts for Ohioans who work multiple part-time jobs and have no access to health insurance.

Despite Taylor’s proposal to gut Kasich’s expansion, Kasich has no plans to rescind his endorsement.

Sometimes it’s easy to forget how insanely out-of-touch Republican officials can be with their policy “solutions” for problems that have happened on their own watch. And then they come along with this nonsense to remind me. Your sons struggled with addiction and I bet you could afford the best treatment. You know who can’t afford treatment? Poor people who can barely afford food.

A monthly fee and health savings accounts? Mary Taylor needs to come down to Appalachia where I can introduce her to literally thousands of folks who are working two or three jobs and have to make choices on whether to buy groceries and toilet paper, or pay their electric bill. I’m not exaggerating.

You want them to to pay monthly doctor fees, or sock money that they don’t have away in an HSA? The monthly fee would work for mental health and addiction problems? Do you really believe this shit or is this just how you rationalize wanton affliction of the afflicted?

This is personal. These people they want to hurt are my friends. I’ve been writing about poverty in Appalachia for 10 years. These people have poured their hearts out to me. They suffer constantly. Their lives are marked by endless economic anxiety, barely scratching by, every single day, just to survive.

On a journalist’s salary, I spend at least $100 each month making sure my friends in poverty have food, because it breaks my heart to hear that all they and their kids had to eat the past three days were Ramen noodles and hot dogs.

And these politicians want to rip their health care away? Want to create more stress, more economic anxiety? Want to pretend they can afford to pay monthly fees or to save in a special health account? I can’t even begin to express how vicious and contemptible that is to me. It’s heartless and absolutely shameful.

And along comes U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, another candidate for governor in Ohio, to double down on the mind-blowing cruelty.

“Medicaid was, in some ways, the driver of this opioid addiction,” Renacci said, in an interview on WAKR radio. “…If [the expansion was] needed, how come 19 states that have not expanded Medicaid are doing better than Ohio? And how come Ohio, who’s the number one state dependent on Medicaid expansion, is also the number one state for opioid overdose and addiction? The numbers and the facts just don’t lie.”

This is one of the more mendacious pieces of absolutely wicked bullshit I’ve seen from an Ohio politician in some time.

The driver of opioid addiction is your insane economic policies that leave millions of Americans stuck in the ditch, desperate and hopeless, with no more fucks to give. The driver of opioid addiction is your allowing pharmaceutical companies to prey on American health care consumers. The driver of opioid addiction is a maliciously conceived and failed drug war that has left now both rural and urban America vulnerable and devastated. The driver of opioid addiction is the neglectful lack of treatment and wraparound services for those whose lives are stuck in this hell because politicians like you only care about the lives of people who are well-off.

This is the forgotten America, and they’ve been forgotten by you. And now you want to blame the victim and hurt them more.

 

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