John Kasich opposes GOP Obamacare repeal bill because of Medicaid phaseout

Ohio Gov. John Kasich on Tuesday became the latest GOP leader to oppose his party's bill in the U.S. House of Representatives to repeal and replace Obamacare.

In theory, Kasich wants to repeal former President Barack Obama's health care law. But he said Tuesday he doesn't like the House Republicans' alternative plan.

The House Republicans' Obamacare bill would phase out Obamacare's Medicaid expansion starting Jan. 1, 2020. People covered under Medicaid expansion before that date then could continue, paid for in large part by the federal government, but states that expanded Medicaid wouldn't be able to add new people to that coverage group.

In 2013, Kasich maneuvered around many of Ohio's Republican lawmakers to expand Medicaid in his state as part of Obama's health care law. This year, as the GOP discussed repealing and replacing Obamacare, Kasich advocated against canceling Medicaid expansion outright.

More than 700,000 Ohioans signed up for Medicaid coverage under Obamacare. The health care law offered the government-paid health care to adults with annual incomes of up to 138 percent of the federal poverty guidelines – up to $16,643 for a single person using 2017 figures.

The federal government currently covers most of the cost of their health care. Without that help, Ohio would face two options: trying to scrape together taxpayer money to give those people health care coverage, or leaving them to find and pay for their own insurance coverage.

That situation initially led Ohio's other top Republican, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, to warn that he might not support the GOP Obamacare plan. But he said Tuesday he was satisfied with how the bill would deal with people currently covered under Medicaid. He still is looking at other parts of the bill, he said.

Kasich at first supported Medicaid expansion because, he said, the state should take advantage of the health care the federal government was willing to provide for low-income Ohioans. That coverage came from federal taxes Ohioans were already paying, he said.

He has continued to laud the ways Medicaid expansion helps people to get coverage for medical treatments for mental health issues or drug addictions. Without the coverage, Kasich warns, adults with low incomes won't get ongoing medical care, leading them to seek free treatment for life-threatening illnesses and accidents in Ohio's emergency rooms – driving up the cost of health care.

Cincinnati Enquirer


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